19 Jun 2007

Taiwanese boat caught fishing illegally in New Caledonia

10:41 am on 19 June 2007

A Taiwanese boat caught fishing illegally in New Caledonia's exclusive economic zone has been allowed to leave the French Pacific territory after its skipper agreed to pay a fine of more than 90,000 U.S. dollars.

Tele-Nouvelle Caledonie reported that a local judged dropped charges against the skipper, Wen Liang Hung, of failing to obey a summons to stop, but he was found guilty of illegal fishing.

The vessel, Jing Chuen 68, was intercepted by a French Navy patrol boat last month and then boarded after the skipper failed to respond to demands to stop.

The cargo, catch and equipment were seized and the boat was brought back to the capital Nouméa, where its skipper and 15 crew members, mostly from Indonesia, remained.

New Caledonia's Public Prosecutor has already indicated there will be an appeal to the decision with the case scheduled for hearing in August.