Joint Operations between the Coast Guard Administration and Penghu County Government to detain sand pump dredgers from Mainland China to enforce the exclusive economic law and Sand and Gravel Excava
Press Section 2019-10-25 159
The Coast Guard Administration, Ocean Affairs Council engaged in a joint operation with the Penthu County Government in a crackdown on the unauthorized operations of the sand pump dredgers from Mainland China in the Formosa Bank. This was the first operation of its kind in Taiwan. The joint operation team has successfully detained the 4,226-ton “Feng Yi 9969” sand pump dredger, the 27,711-ton “Chang Xin 36” sand pump dredger and 28 seamen on the 24th at 06: 15 with overwhelming police force. The vessels and the seamen were brought back to Magung and were reported to the Taiwan Penghu District Prosecutors Office for investigation and further action. They will be charged in accordance with Article 18 and Article 20 of the “Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the Republic of China” and Article 36 of the “Sand and Gravel Excavation Act.”
Lai Feng-Wei, Penghu County Mayor specifically thanked the law enforcement officers for their daring action, and received the command ship Kaohsiung of the task force in person at Magong Port. He also offered an award of NT$100,000 to express his gratitude to the members of the Coast Guard.
This was indeed the first operation of its kind to escort sand pump dredger and transport vessel at the Formosa Bank. The subsequent procedure of gathering evidence and legal proceedings will follow and a maximum fine of NT$5 million may be imposed by the county government, according to Lai Feng-Wei. This is a matter of deterrence to make it a routine mechanism to ward off illegal excavation of sea sand.
In this operation, 3 patrol boats and 3 ships carrying about 100 coast guards were mobilized, according to Commander Hsieh Ching-Chin of the Patrol Fleet at Coast Guard Administration, and the Commander of the task force. They spent 18 hours of investigation and raiding, 8 hours of towing, which made up a total of 26 hours to accomplish the mission. The patrol ship Kinmen discovered about 45 to 50 sand pump dredgers and the transport vessels crossing the boundary on the 24th at about 03:52. The Coast Guard monitored the action with radar and deployed covertly. The order of raid was given by Hsieh at 06:00 in the morning to intercept these vessels and conducted inspection on board these vessels.
The escort of the sand transport vessel in detention is 172 meters long and about 27,000 tons, and was temporarily docked at the sea zone of NeiAn. The sand pump dredger is about 4,226 tons and is slower in speed, which is expected to arrive Penghu on the 25th early in the morning. The case was referred to the Penghu Prosecutors Office for legal proceedings. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Penghu County Government will hold the perpetrators for criminal and administrative liabilities.
A forum has been held in July of this year between Lai Feng-Wei and the marine law enforcement authorities of Quanzhou and Fujian Province. They reached an agreement to form a joint investigation platform with sharing of information on vessels engaged in illegal operations. Not long ago, Lai Feng-Wei has visited Taipei twice for meeting with Chang Ching-Sen, Minister without Portfolio at the Executive Yuan, Coast Guard Administration, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Ministry of Justice for mapping out the plan for rounding up unauthorized sand pump dredgers from Mainland China. The first operation of its kind has been accomplished with the successful detention of unauthorized sand pump dredgers at the Formosa Bank.
For power action in rounding up unauthorized sand pump dredgers from Mainland China, the Coast Guard Administration, Penghu County Government, National Airborne Service Corps, Ministry of the Interior have formed a task force led by the Commander of Patrol Fleet Hsieh Ching-Chin of Coast Guard Administration to launch the operation on the 24th at 00:00. The task force consisted of four ships from Kaohsiung, Penghu, Kinmen, Tainan 10059 patrol boat, Penghu 10038 patrol boat and 10066 frigates. These sea vessels jointly engaged in the action.
“Formosa Bank” is located on the southwest side of the Taiwan Straits and is about 30 sea miles southwest from Cimei Island of Penghu and 80 sea miles from Magung. It takes about 4 times the journey from Magung to Cimei. This is the biggest fishery zone at Penghu with abundance of biological and non-biological creatures. This is also the habitat of various breeds of squids and also the place for growing their offspring.
Mainland China has banned the extraction of sand along the coast line a few years ago that compelled the sand pump dredgers to move to the “Formosa Bank” water collectively to pump sand. Their operation has disturbed the habitat of various breeds of squids in that area to the extent that maritime resources at the sea zone of Penghu withered over time. In the past, the Coast Guard just warded off the vessels. However, these sand pump dredgers from Mainland China took the opportunity of returning to the zone for continuing the pumping of sea sand. Some of these vessels disguised themselves by covering and wiping out the vessel name to avoid the gathering of evidence.
Coast Guards landed on board these vessels to investigate and bring these vessels back to Taiwan territorial waters