Su’ao fishermen estimate NT$50m in losses due to China’s military drills

About 200 fishing boats in Su'ao have decided not to go out to sea for the next three days, due to China's live-fire military exercises near Taiwan, which may result in losses to the fishermen of about NT$50 million (US$1.65 million), a fisherman's association in the northeastern coastal township said Thursday.

The Chinese military drills, which started around midday Thursday in waters around Taiwan, include an area where Su'ao fishermen usually harvest horse mackerel, mackerel, and longfin squid, Chen Chun-shen (???), head of the Su'ao Fishermen's Association, told CNA.

On Tuesday night, the Chinese People's Liberation Army announced that it planned to carry out large-scale live-fire military exercises in six locations near Taiwan, Thursday to Sunday, in response to a visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had arrived in Taipei 16 minutes earlier.

According to Chen, one of the drill locations is southeast of Su'ao Township in the northeastern county of Yilan, which has prompted about 200 fishing boat operators to remain in port for the three days that the military drills are being conducted.

With that decision, the Su'ao fishing boats will suffer estimated economic losses of NT$50 million, he said.

Wu Feng-chun (???), head of a fisherman's rights association in Yilan, said he will lose NT$6,000 per day in personnel costs alone, as he employs five migrant workers.

Meanwhile, fishing boats that have decided to go out as usual will receive two-hourly warnings from Lanyang Fishery Radio in Su'ao about the Chinese military exercises, according to Chen.

A map released by Chinese state media shows that the military drills are being conducted in the Taiwan Strait, the Bashi Channel, East China Sea, and the Pacific, in areas closest to Taiwan's New Taipei, Miaoli, Keelung, Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Hualien.

In Hualien, however, coast guard patrol vessels, fishing boats, and whale watching boats were operating as usual Thursday morning.

Lin Chun-chi (???), head of the Hualien Fishermen's Association, told reporters Thursday that there are about 400 fishing boats based in Hualien, most of which usually fish within a range of 9.26 kilometers from the coast.

On Thursday, only a few of them went out, leaving early in the morning and returning by noon, Lin said, adding that it is currently the off-season for fishing in that area.

At the county's airport, flight services were normal on Thursday, according to Hualien Airport Operations Manager Lin Kuo-yung (???).

In Kaohsiung, the Tzukuan Fisheries Association said only a few boats had gone out Thursday but that was because it was the off-season and the weather conditions were unstable.

The boats that did go out were fishing within 5.5 kilometers of the Kaohsiung coast, the association's head Liu Lian-teng (???) said. Kaohsiung Harbor and the city's international airport were functioning as usual, and flights services to and from Xiaoliuqiu islet off the city's coast remained normal, the operators said.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said Thursday that it was closely monitoring the Chinese military's movements in the Taiwan Strait and near Taiwan's outlying islands.

Taiwan's armed forces are conducting daily training as usual, and the military is upholding the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, with the aim of avoiding an escalation of conflict and disputes, the ministry said.

The armed forces will resolutely safeguard Taiwan's national sovereignty and security, the defense ministry said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel