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By Kalvau Moli

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 21) - A Taiwanese captain and 11 Chinese crewmen were stranded after their vessel run aground outside Tasiriki and Ipaiato shores in South Santo last Thursday.

According to the Department of Fisheries, an investigation is being coordinated jointly by the Vanuatu Maritime Authority (VMA) to see if the boat may have been trying to fish in Vanuatu waters illegally.

Based on information collected, the boat was preparing for new fishing grounds around the Solomon Islands after its operating licenses for the Fiji waters had expired.

There is already concern over poor surveillance over Vanuatu waters after the country's only patrol boat, the RVS Tukoro, went for a repair in Australia several months ago.

Fisheries Development Officer Bruce Obed has downplayed speculation that the boat may have been trying to fish illegally, saying the vessel had no fish on board other than fish baits and rations for three months at sea.

The has been written off as a total loss and there is concern over possible oil leakages.

Fisheries officers are monitoring the wreck on a 24-hours basis.

Meanwhile, police in the northern town are increasing their patrol despite the absence of RVS Tukoro. The Daily Post has received reports that police officers will be dropped by outboard motors on various locations along the shores of Sanma province to monitor the coastlines for poachers.

July 22, 2004

The Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com/

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