|At least 800 Chinese fishermen have been detained for illegal fishing by South Korea since 2006 [AFP]|
A South Korean coast guard officer has been stabbed to death and another injured while attempting to seize a Chinese boat suspected of fishing illegally in South Korean waters, officials have said.
Monday’s incident began after the coast guard attempted to stop two Chinese fishing boats suspected of operating in Yellow Sea waters, which are rich in blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, the coast guard said.
As officers boarded one boat to arrest nine fishermen on board, the other boat rammed the seized vessel, prompting the fight, the AFP news agency said.
It was the second time in four years that a South Korean coast guard officer has died in the line of duty.
One officer, a 41-year-old man, was stabbed in the side with a piece of glass as he searched the steering room, according to AFP. Another 33-year-old officer was also stabbed.
The attacker was the captain of the seized fishing vessel, spokesman Kim Dong-jin said.
The older man was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the nearby port city of Incheon, but died of organ failure, Kim said.
The other officer was stabbed in the abdomen and underwent surgery, while the Chinese captain received minor injuries from the fight, he said.
The fishermen on the boat were arrested and taken to Incheon.
South Korea’s foreign ministry summoned China’s ambassador in Seoul and lodged a strong protest, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
The foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the report, and there was no comment from Beijing.
Fishermen venturing further
The coast guard says it has seized 475 Chinese ships for illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea so far this year, up from 370 last year. At least 800 Chinese fishermen have been arrested since 2006.
The coast guard usually releases the ships after a fine is paid, though violence occasionally occurs.
Chinese fishing fleets have been going farther afield to feed growing domestic demand for seafood.
In October, the coast guard said it used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue Chinese fishermen wielding clubs and shovels. Twenty-one Chinese were detained but later released after paying a fine.
In 2008, a South Korean coast guard officer was killed and six others injured in a fight with Chinese fishermen in South Korean waters.
Last year, a collision between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese coast guard vessels led to a diplomatic spat between the countries over disputed islands in the East China Sea.