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Group Opposes Arming Its Tuna Fishermen Against Pirates

A fishermen's organization rejected proposals to arm its crews despite the recent hijacking of a Taiwanese ship by Somali pirates. The Kaohsiung-based Win Far 161 was taken over by the pirates last Monday near the Seychelles with a crew of 30. The skipper and the first engineer are Taiwanese nationals, while the other crew members hail from China, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Taiwan Long-line Tuna Association chairman Wu Ming-tso rejected suggestions from ship owners yesterday that the crews should be allowed to bear arms to defend themselves against pirates.
The number of management problems will increase sharply if weapons are allowed on board, Wu said. Taiwanese fishing vessels have repeatedly been hit by crew mutinies, sometimes with fatal results for the skipper. The best policy would be to avoid areas frequented by pirates altogether, and avoid direct confrontation and close contact with ships of uncertain origin, Wu said. The whereabouts of the Win Fat 161 was still uncertain, but its owner had taken measures to help the families of the crew and was prepared for talks, Wu said.