Captain of fishing boat strongly suspects U.S. ship involvement in trawl line-cutting

Captain of fishing boat strongly suspects U.S. ship involvement in trawl line-cutting

The U.S. Navy Ocean Surveillance Ship Impeccableis passing near the tuna fishing boat Daiichi Kotobuki Maru on the sea near the main Island of Okinawa on May 27.The ship is towing a sonar array. (Photograph provided by the captain of Daiichi Kotobuki Maru)

June 7, 2014 Kenichi Yoshida and Shinji Sano of Ryukyu Shimpo

Seven tuna fishing boats had their lines cut off one after another in waters near the main Island of Okinawa. The fishing industry suspects a U.S. Navy vessel was involved in the incidents. The captain of Daiichi Kotobuki Maru, which belongs to the Okinawa Tuna Fishing Cooperative Association, said on June 6 that the U.S. Navy Ocean Surveillance Ship T-AGOS 23 Impeccable repeatedly sailed past where the lines were anchored. The captain took pictures of the U.S. naval vessel sailing on the sea, about 800 meters away from his boat.

Between mid-May and June, such incidents took place continuously in waters about 110 kilometers southwest of the main Island of Okinawa. As of May 28, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) received 15 incident reports from seven tuna boats. After that, the OPG confirmed another three cases. The damage from 18 cases has amounted to several million yen. The OPG and the Okinawa Prefecture Fishery Cooperative asked the U.S. military to provide information on the incidents through the Okinawa Defense Bureau. Two weeks later, there was still no answer from U.S. military as of June 6.

The captain of Daiichi Kotobuki Maru said, “It is almost certainly that the U.S. Navy ship cut off the long lines. The U.S. military may not admit its fault for the protection of the military secrets. But, we will not allow the U.S. military to hide the incidents. The U.S. military should pay to compensate for damages caused as soon as possible.”

It has been confirmed that the U.S. Navy Ocean Surveillance Ship often visits Naha Military Port and White Beach. The vessel is equipped with a low frequency active sonar system to explore underwater. It uses sonar rays under water. The captain said, “The Ocean Surveillance Ship cut off our longlines with its sonar. Cargo ships have always pass near our boats, but they have not affected our operation. If there was prior announcement from the U.S. military we could have changed the location for setting the longlines.”

Wataro Lai , a member of the civil organization Rimpeace, established to monitor the U.S. military’s activities, said, “The Impeccable is a large Ocean Surveillance Ship, which has a transmitter sonar that extends vertically from the hull of the ship and a passive sonar that extends parallel to the surface of the sea. It is able to detect a submarine using this sonar system.” He also pointed out the possibility that the ocean surveillance ship had cut off the longlines with its passive sonar when it passed near the fishing place.

(English translation by T&CT)

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