South Korean coast guard officers for the first time fired at a Chinese fishing boat suspected of illegal fishing in South Korean waters, injuring one Chinese crewman, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.
The 30-ton vessel, along with another Chinese fishing boat, was captured around 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) Thursday in waters 103 kilometers southwest of the west coast town of Taean, coast guard officials were quoted as saying. Coast guard officers set out to inspect the boats after suspecting them of fishing illegally some 11 km within South Korea’s exclusive economic zone, but faced harsh resistance from the weapons-wielding Chinese crewmen aboard, they said.
The coast guard officers opened fire, wounding one Chinese crewman in the leg and capturing all 10 crew members. The crew also wielded weapons and injured one South Korean officer, but neither injury appears to be fatal, according to the report.
The Coast Guard plans to slap a fine of KRW 30 million (USD 26,870) on each boat on charges of fishing illegally without licenses and book the Chinese crew who wounded the South Korean officer on charges of obstructing official duty.
Clashes between Chinese fishermen and South Korean Coast Guard officers are known to be frequent, with one officer even losing his life during a crackdown several years ago. No shooting, however, occurred in the previous cases.