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Pirate raids overwhelm local authorities, fishing industry

Update: February, 14/2014 - 08:57

CA MAU (VNS) — Piracy off the coast of southernmost Ca Mau Province is endangering local fishermen as authorities struggle to deal with armed raids.

Chinh Thang, a resident in U Minh District's Khanh Hoi Commune, was quoted by Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside today) newspaper, as saying many fishermen had been the subject of night time robberies at sea and reported stolen fishing equipment.

"Sometimes, they even take oil, batteries, and life rafts", he said.

Groups are believed to be targeting fishermen at night, when fishing ships are anchored miles offshore, Thang said, adding that robbers were not afraid to use weapons to threaten people on board.

According to another fisherman, Minh Vu, piracy groups often travelled by composite canoes to avoid detection and capture by local authorities.

Among many victims, Pham Trong Tien, from Hamlet 8 had 7,000 meters of fishing net stolen from his boat, worth over VND70 million (US$3,000).

"If the situation doesn't improve, I will not go fishing any more", he said, stressing that his son had also been targeted.

In another case, Nguyen Thuy Ngoan's family from Khanh Hoi District was robbed of fishing equipment worth tens of million dong.

"Fishing is our family's only means of subsistence, so we are in serious trouble now," said Ngoan.

According to an officer of Khanh Hoi Commune Police, a lack of boat inspections was facilitating the increase in piracy, adding that police had to rely on the coastguard to address the robberies.

Meanwhile, Phan Minh Chi, an official of Hamlet 8, said the robberies were becoming more sophisticated.

"Thieves, robbers and pirates are spontaneous and organised so fishermen are really afraid of them," he said.

"Out of 213 households in the hamlet, some 60 are living on fishing but many of them have had their fishing equipment robbed", he said, adding that fishermen so far had found no way to protect their assets while fishing offshore. — VNS

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