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Seized Pirates A Major Tuna Producer

Kaohsiung, the southern Taiwanese city where the Taiwanese fishing vessel seized by Somali pirates originated, is the world’s second largest tuna producer.

Fishing vessels based in the city can catch nearly 200,000 tons of tuna fish each year, with the annual production value of the local tuna fishing industry hitting around NT$20 billion (US$599 million), according to officials at the Kaohsiung City Marine Bureau.

“Kaohsiung City’s tuna fish catch is the world’s largest or second-largest,” bureau officials said.

According to the bureau, local deep-sea fishing boats, like the one seized Monday, catch mostly tuna, squid and saury pike.

The “Win Far 161,” a 700-ton fishing ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates early Monday in the Indian Ocean, is a long-line tuna fishing boat from Kaohsiung City, bureau officials said, confirming what Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Monday.

The Kaohsiung City Tuna Association said 360 fishing ships registered with the southern Taiwanese city operate in various oceans in the world, including the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Most of them are large long-line ships weighing over 100 tons, and their catch are mainly exported to Japan, Europe and the United States, association officials said. As of yesterday evening, there was still no word about the whereabouts of the vessel and its 30-member crew, which include two Taiwanese citizens. No ransom demand has surfaced.