South Korean fires on Chinese trawler, wounding fisherman Published: 04 March, 2011
ANOTHER potentially serious incident involving Asian fishing fleets and opposing security forces erupted last night when a South Korean coastguard vessel opened fire while attempting to arrest a Chinese trawler, injuring one of the crewmen during the operation.
The large Chinese trawler, which was working with another fishing boat, was captured and escorted into port. The incident is the latest in a series of clashes between the South Korean and the Chinese and their North Korean neighbours. Last year a Korean officer was killed in one such incident.
But Asian waters have become a fishing tinder box in the past 12 months. Last year the arrest of a Chinese trawler by Japanese naval forces sparked off an international incident that threatened to turn ugly. Often claims to under sea mineral reserves such as oil and gas rather than the claim to preserve fish stocks are at the root of these growing disputes. The main worry is that they could lead to a more serious confrontation of naval forces at some time in the future.
In yesterday’s incident the coastguard vessel sailed out to inspect the trawlers after suspecting them of fishing illegally inside South Korea’s exclusive economic zone. But the Chinese fishermen fought back fiercely with knives, hatchets and other weapons. The Koreans said they were forced to open fire in self defence, wounding one Chinese deckhand in the leg and capturing all 10 crew members. The Koreans have threatened to impose fines totalling the equivalent of around £18,000 on each boat they arrest for fishing illegally.