19 Jan 2004

French Navy catches another boat suspected of illegal fishing in New Caledonian waters

4:19 pm on 19 January 2004

The French navy has seized a vessel suspected of fishing illegally in New Caledonian waters.

It's the second such incident involving a Taiwanese fishing vessel in as many months.

Inspectors found about forty tonnes of fish on board the Feng Rong Sheng, south-east of the Isle of Pines at the weekend.

The captain said he was fishing in Vanuatu waters, where he was licensed to catch.

He told officials engine problems had forced the vessel to drift into New Caledonia's exclusive economic zone.

But the navy says it found two long-lines in the sea, and says it has enough evidence to prove the vessel was fishing illegally.

Another Taiwanese vessel, the San Sheng, was caught off the north of New Caledonia in November.

The captain has appealed against his conviction and six months' jail sentence.

The government of New Caledonia is to decide whether or not to lay charges in the latest incident.