Clash in Argentinean waters

Clash in Argentinean waters

In an operation that was overseen by Argentina’s security minister Patricia Bullrich and armed forces chief Eduardo Scarzello, an Argentinean Coastguard vessel was this week involved in a Chinese fishing vessel at the outer edge of the country’s EEZ.

The Argentinean Coastguard reports that its patrol vessel GC-24 Mantilla located an unidentified vessel 1000 metres within the EEZ, and which was operating without its AIS switched on.

Mantilla’s crew quickly identified the vessel as fishing, and confirmed that it had fishing gear in the water before initiating the routine for dealing with illegal fishing activity, making initial attempts to contact the vessel in English and Spanish but without receiving a response.

The vessel was identified as Hua Xiang 801, and instead of complying with the Coastguard vessel’s requests, it jettisoned its gear, switched off all lights and headed for international waters, while also carrying out manoeuvres with the apparent intention of causing a collision with Mantilla, which was able to evade them.

Hua Xiang 801 continued on its way into international waters, in spite of warning shots being fired after permission to fire had been granted. After three hours of pursuit, Mantilla broke off the chase and returned to routine patrol duties inside the EEZ.

The authorities in Argentina have pledged to followup the incident involving Hua Xiang 801, as it did with the case last year of Chinese jigging vessel Jing Yuan 626, which was also identified by Mantilla as fishing illegally in Argentinean waters.

Jing Yuan 626’s owners were required to reimburse the Argentinian for the cost of the operation in February 2018, plus pay a fine of 7 million pesos (€150,000).