Manila detains 21 fishermen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 1996, 12:00am

A Hong Kong fishing boat and its 21 crew members have been detained by the Philippine Navy for poaching in the Sulu Sea.

Yesterday, the Philippine Navy was trying to identify where the crew came from and Hong Kong authorities had asked the British Embassy in Manila to assist.

'We are still trying to determine the true nationality of these Chinese, but it is suspected they are Hong Kong-based,' said spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Simplicio Ledesma.

The boat, which has been towed to port, was intercepted off the Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi island group, said Commodore Eriberto Varona, the commander of naval forces in the south.

The navy also seized the boat's live catch and cyanide solutions, which the crew allegedly used to stun fish. In the Philippines, cyanide fishing is punishable by lengthy jail terms.

A Fishermen's Society of Hong Kong spokesman said last night: 'Cyanide fishing gives fishermen a much bigger harvest. Usually they spot the school of fish and administer the cyanide.

'When the fish float to the surface the fishermen collect them in nets. But it is a very irresponsible way to make a living.'