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Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 16:44

Philippines detains 25 Chinese fishermen

By Agencies

MANILA - Philippine fishing authorities said on Tuesday they had detained 25 Chinese crew of two seized fishing boats on suspicion of poaching.

A joint team from the Philippine coastguard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) captured the Chinese vessels on Monday that they said "sailing without permits" between waters off Babuyan Island and Batanes province in the northern Philippines.

Tension between the Philippines and China has risen as an international tribunal in the Hague prepares to deliver a ruling in the next few months in a case lodged by Manila in 2013. China has rejected the court's authority.

The fishing boats were flying an inverted Philippine flag when apprehended on Monday, BFAR said in a statement.

Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had no information and needed to further understand the situation.

Documents seized by Philippine authorities showed the vessels were Chinese registered. The fishermen failed to show permits required to enter Philippine waters, BFAR said.

"Based on existing rules, the fact that both foreign fishing vessels were flying a Philippine flag gave rise to the presumption that they are engaged in poaching," said BFAR director, Asis Perez.

A Philippine court fined nine Chinese fishermen US$102,000 each in late 2014 after they were caught with hundreds of sea turtles in the Nansha islands of the South China Sea.

China protested against the arrests and refused to recognize their trial.

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