Palikir, Pohnpei - On May 5, 2010, patrol boat FSS Micronesia seized a Taiwanese fishing vessel operating within the Economic Exclusive Zone ("EEZ") in Yap without a fishing license. As the boat was pulled into Yap Port by FSS Micronesia on May 8, 2010; its Captain, Chung I. Chen, and his seven crew members were met by the Department of Justice attorneys, Pole Atanroai and Daniel Rescue.
Rescue stated the boat was seized 5 miles in-side the perimeter of EEZ. "We suspect the vessels fish in and out of the very edge of the perimeter of EEZ to try and avoid being caught," he said. Nevertheless, radio signals are picked up by the onboard FSM patrol boat computers, and any suspicious activity is immediately investigated.
On the evening of their arrival in Yap, Atanroai and Rescue reviewed the statements obtained by the Commanding Officer of FSS Micronesia, Stuart Peter, and ensured that based on the evidence they could pursue civil and criminal charges against the seized vessel. The FSS Micronesia Second in Command, Kodak David, remained in Yap that evening to give sworn affidavits to the Department of Justice attorneys, as the patrol boat had to immediately depart to attend an outer island medical emergency.
The Department of Justice received tremendous assistance from the Yap National Immigration Office, where the attorneys set up camp to finalize the preparation of their court filings, and from Yap State Police who pro-vided 24 hour monitoring of the seized vessel and its crew.
The language barrier between the attorneys and the vessel crew was a serious issue; fortunately the Yap Police Department located a Yapese college student studying in Beijing, on vacation in Yap for the summer, who after being deputized on Sunday, May 9, 2010, by Yap Attorney General Victor Napeyan, was able to provide translation services.
Next, on Monday, May 10, 2010, a national holiday, Atanroai and Rescue were able to find a court clerk who facilitated the filing of their civil and criminal cases against the vessel and its Captain with the Supreme Court in Yap. The fines under FSM Code, Title 24 ("Marine Resources"), range from $100,000 to $1,000,000.
Pursuant to the Joint Law Enforcement Agreement ("JLEA"), an agreement between the FSM National government and each state government, Yap state will take over the case. Napeyan's office will negotiate the fines with Chen, owner of the fishing vessel. Typically, once the civil case is settled, the criminal charges will be dropped. The amount of the fine will vary depending on whether this was a first offense or a repeated offense for this vessel. If Chen is unable to pay the fine, the boat will be sold and the proceeds applied towards the fine.
This incident highlights a smoothly performed operation, with efficient communication and assistance between numerous national and states departments.