The Vietnamese Coast Guard have promised tougher measures to deter Chinese vessels from trespassing into Vietnamese waters.
A Coast Guard source told Thanh Nien that violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty by Chinese vessels have recently increased, and from now on there would be fines or seizures based on the level of violation. Until now intruders had been let off with warnings or just chased away.
Border guards in the northern city of Hai Phong reported recently that Chinese vessels repeatedly entered Vietnamese waters in the Tonkin Gulf.
Major Pham Dinh Thanh of the Hai Phong Border Guard told Thanh Nien that for the last several years Chinese fishing boats have been penetrating 10-15 nautical miles into Vietnamese waters in the gulf.
Most of the illegal arrivals were in Bach Long Vi Island. The Chinese boats would take advantage of foggy weather or rough seas to illegally fish in Vietnamese waters, according to Thanh.
When entering Vietnamese waters, they would not fly flags and their crew would not carry personal papers to avoid identification by Vietnamese authorities, he said.
In the second half of March alone the Hai Phong Border Guard had chased away 110 illegal Chinese vessels and made official reports about 20 of the boats with 120 crew members.
In the latest incident the Coast Guard pursued and seized a Chinese vessel carrying more than 100,000 liters of diesel in waters off Bach Long Vi Island Thursday afternoon.
The captain of the vessel and two crew members, all Chinese, admitted that they had intruded deep into Vietnamese waters to refuel five or six Chinese boats fishing there.
According to Coast Guard, the vessel was disguised as a fishing boat with fishing nets hanging on its sides and without flag.
Vietnamese authorities are investigating whether the vessel was involved with a marine oil smuggling gang.