500 hours afloat with fishermen: Part 6

Ships going aground at sea

Quang Ngai's seafarers face trouble when they have been continuously bullied by foreign ships on the Hoang Sa's waters of our country. Many people fell into bankruptcy when going home because the ship had only a empty wooden shell.
October 03, 2020 | 09:24
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3553 b6Tools for living were swept off

Just escaping from a 12-day detention by Chinese on Phu Lam Island (belonging to the Hoang Sa archipelago of Vietnam but being now illegally occupied by China), Nguyen Tan Lu, the owner of the ship QNs95031, Dinh Tan village (Binh Chau commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai) was still shocked, but he has to rush to work at sea to continue paying the debt for the last lost trip. His ship in that trip was arrested by Chinese soldiers and taken to Phu Lam Island, they asked him to pay a fine of RMB 60,000 by borrowing to be released.

Recalling the days on the island, Lu said: I was fishing at night on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) island area and was forced by many Chinese military ships. When they arrived on the island, they were blindfolded and locked into the cell every day, food and drink were limited, but had to go to work hard of pulling weeds and carrying rocks and pants all day. Unable to bear the reluctant hardship, the group of people held on Phu Lam Island had to contact home to collect enough money to pay in a bank addressing at 15 Xihe Street, San Ya City, Hainan province, China.

3828 b6 1 A receipt shows that fishermen have to pay ransom for family's member illegally arrested by China

The man was shocked much more to know that his family had just lost a large amount of money to redeem him. When he was returned to the boat on Phu Lam Island, he kept horror-stricken because all his seafaring equipment and tools were swept off including a global positioning machine, a depth detector, an icom, radio and cooking oil, sugar, monosodium glutamate, rice and even 1.5 tons of humpback fish that his ship just hit was robbed. The Chinese soldiers also drained all 2,000 liters of motor oil, just to let his ship have enough oil to run ashore and give a little rice to eat for 2 days. Lu's ship lost VND 250 million (USD 12,000) including the fine and the money for buying seafaring equipment again replaced for the robbed things. Lu's wife, sadly looking at her husband in rush to work at sea for earns of paying debts of arresting on Phu Lam Island, said: “Since the day we married for more than 20 years, we have not accumulated a large amount of money like so. Because my husband was being held on Phu Lam Island and heard his texting that he was living so hard, the whole family had to borrow 60,000 yuan for his freedom"

4027 b6 2The fishing vessel QNg 96416 TS returned to Sa Ky Border Station to report that it was sunk by foreign ships

Fishermen bullied at sea

Tam Hung pointed out to show me a streak of land rising in the middle of the sea saying that this was Tri Ton island of Hoang Sa archipelago. The island is only 132 nautical miles from the mainland of our state, this area is also one of the fish mines in the Bien Dong Sea. If they can fish here, the fishermen can both be safe and save oil because when there is a storm, they only run 2 days 1 night to safely reach the shore. But for a long time, fishermen have been continuously chased away by foreign military ships and still have to run through Hoang Sa before they can fish freely.

4329 b6 3Vietnamese fishermen's fishing boats were collided by China many times in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) waters

I thought Tam Hung's words to scare me, but in the trip we constantly heard bad news from the radio spread to each other by fishermen on the sea. Only one night on February 19, nine fishing boats of Quang Ngai fishermen were captured by Chinese military ships on Phu Lam Island. Crew members were quickly released with eight oiled ships, just enough to run back to the coast of Quang Ngai. And the captain, the chief engineer of those 9 ships, was kept until the family had collected enough money to pay the fine for him to be released.

4940 b6 4The photos of ships crashed by Chinese ships taken by fishermen.

The foreign military ships implement not only the control and punishment against our country's fishermen, but also constantly cause bad situations endangering the lives of the ship and the fisherme at sea. That is the case of the ship 05371QNs fishing near the Bong Bay island area, when a foreign ship came to control for inspection. A soldier opened the hatch and saw 2 tons of humpback fish that the ship had just caught the night before, they scooped up the fish and left. The fishermen thought that have done, but not, when Captain Nguyen Van Xu pulled the anchor, he was shocked to know that it was cut off by the foreign military ship. The whole tens-of-ton weight ship floating on the sea like a human without legs freely drifting along the sea currents. If they want to be let them be, only by running to the shore or is lucky enough to borrow an anchor so they can stay on the sea and continue working hard for enough expenses to return.

Over the years, Quang Ngai fishermen have been repeatedly bullied at sea including being stabbed in the sea, arrested and attacked with guns by strange armed ships.

Vietnamese seafarers are not only facing strong waves and winds at sea, but also having to deal with unreasonable bullying on our waters done by some Chinese military ships because they are invading our country's islands and our traditional fishing grounds.

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Translated by Tarah Nguyen
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