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75 fishing vessels to join protest voyage to Diaoyutais

ROC Central News Agency

2012/09/24 14:07:12

Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) At least 75 Taiwanese fishing ships will sail to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands Monday afternoon to protest Japan's nationalization of the island chain and assert Taiwan's fishing rights in the region, according to the event's organizers.

Despite high waves in waters off Suao in Yilan County, many shipowners in the northeastern coastal town began preparations for the protest voyage early in the morning, said Chen Chu-sheng, head of the organizing committee for the upcoming trip.

"The number of fishing boats registered to take part in the protest voyage has increased from 60 to at least 75," Chen said, adding that many fishing boats from other parts of Taiwan will also join the event.

In addition to protesting the Japanese government's recent purchase of three isles in the island group from their private owners to ramp up its sovereignty claim, the protest voyage is also aimed at asserting local fishermen's rights to operate in the Diaoyutai waters, which have long been Taiwan's traditional fishing grounds, Chen said.

The fishing boats are scheduled to start their voyage at 3 p.m. and will converge in waters some 20 nautical miles southwest of the Diaoyutai Islands at around 5 a.m. Tuesday, Chen said, adding that the ships will then split into groups of five and circle the island chain clockwise to underscore their cause.

The fishermen will try to penetrate the Japanese coast guard's defense line to enter waters 12 nautical miles off the Diaoyutais and unfurl protest banners to vent their anger over frequent harassment during their fishing operations in the area, Chen said.

The participating fishermen have not ruled out the possibility of landing on any outcrop in the contested island chain, Chen said.

Located some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai island group has been under Japanese administration since 1972, but is also claimed by Taiwan and China.

(By Worthy Shen and Sofia Wu)

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