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Shots fired as Taiwan boat evades Micronesia police

world Updated: Feb 02, 2009 10:34 IST

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A Taiwanese vessel accused of fishing illegally in Marshall Islands' waters ignored warning shots from a pursuing patrol boat and fled to the high seas, officials said on Monday.

Marshall Islands Sea Patrol chief Thomas Heine said the Taiwanese boat was identified as the Fu Yang 168 and efforts were underway to place it on a regional blacklist banning it from fishing in the Pacific.

Meanwhile the search continued for Japanese fishing boat Chidori No 5 which was also accused of fishing illegally inside the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the western Pacific island nation.

Heine said the two vessels were seen fishing illegally in the northwest of the economic zone late last week.

Because the Marshall Islands' own patrol was out of action with engine problems, the government invoked a regional surveillance treaty for the first time, bringing in the Federated States of Micronesia's (FSM) national police.

"Within minutes of our faxing the letter, the FSM's patrol vessel Independence was on its way," Heine said.

When the crew on the Taiwanese vessel saw the Independence approaching "they cut their fishing lines and high-tailed it out of there".

The Independence gave chase, firing warning shots across the bow of the longliner, but the Taiwanese refused to stop, Heine said.

The Japanese vessel was being pursued by FSM maritime police in Micronesian waters after it was reported fishing in Marshall Islands' waters as well as within the 12-mile territorial limit of an FSM island, Heine said.