Monday, December 12, 2011

DTN News - SOUTH KOREAN NEWS: South Korea Says 1 of 2 Coast Guard Officers Stabbed By Chinese Captain Dies

DTN News - SOUTH KOREAN NEWS: South Korea Says 1 of 2 Coast Guard Officers Stabbed By Chinese Captain Dies
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / SEOUL, South Korea - December 12, 2011: A Chinese fishing boat captain stabbed two South Korean coast guard officers Monday, killing one and injuring the other, after his boat was stopped for illegally fishing in South Korean waters, officials said.
The Chinese captain pulled an unidentified weapon after officers from two coast guard ships boarded the fishing boat over suspicions that it was illegally operating in Yellow
Sea waters rich in blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, coast guard spokesman Kim Dong-jin said.
A South Korean officer stabbed in the side was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the port city of Incheon but later died, Kim said. Also brought to the hospital were an officer stabbed in the abdomen, who was to undergo surgery, and the Chinese captain, who had minor injuries from the fight, he said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned China’s ambassador in Seoul later Monday and lodged a strong protest over the fight. Foreign Ministry officials said they had asked the ambassador last Thursday to make efforts to prevent illegal Chinese fishing from undermining bilateral ties.
Last week, South Korean authorities also raised fines levied on foreign fishing vessels caught operating in Seoul’s self-declared exclusive economic zone, an apparent reflection of the government’s impatience with a rising number of Chinese boats found fishing in the waters.
“Eradicating Chinese boats’ illegal fishing in our waters is a most urgent task to safeguard our fishermen and fisheries resources,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said in a recent editorial. “The government should mobilize every possible means and continue the crackdown on illegal fishing.”
Monday’s fighting isn’t likely to undermine overall ties, although Seoul is expected to pressure Beijing harder over illegal fishing activities, said Lee Chang-hyung of Seoul’s government-affiliated Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.
Besides the captain, eight other Chinese fishermen on the boat were arrested and taken to Incheon, the coast guard said in a statement.
The coast guard says it has seized about 470 Chinese ships for illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea so far this year, up from 370 last year. The coast guard usually releases the ships after a fine is paid, though violence occasionally occurs.
Chinese fishing fleets have been going farther afield to feed growing domestic demand for seafood.
With some 300,000 fishing vessels and 8 million fishermen, the Chinese fishing industry is by far the world’s largest, producing an annual catch in excess 17 million tons. But waters close to China’s shores have been yielding decreasing catches, forcing the Chinese fleet to venture farther away.
In 2008, one South Korean coast guard officer was killed and six others injured in a fight with Chinese fishermen in South Korean waters. Last year, a collision between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese coast guard vessels led to a diplomatic spat between the countries over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Starting in 2009, China’s fishing fleet has also appeared to be acting in concert with the nation’s perceived intention to press forward with claims in disputed maritime areas — 2009 was the deadline imposed by a U.N. treaty for continental seabed contestants to file formal undertakings — and by a sense that the financial crisis in the West had opened the door to more assertive Chinese behavior in areas it had long regarded as falling within its legitimate sphere of influence.
In March of that year several Chinese fishing trawlers accompanied by two Chinese fisheries enforcement ships and at least one Chinese naval vessel harassed an American surveillance ship 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of China’s Hainan island.
___
Associated Press writer Peter Enav in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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