Asia's fishermen caught in escalating sea tensions
Published on Nov 2, 2012 4:00 PM
LY SON ISLAND, Vietnam (AFP) - When gun-toting Chinese guards spotted Mr Tran Hien's unarmed wooden fishing boat in disputed waters, they seized his vessel, detained his crew and threw him in jail.
For generations, the Vietnamese islanders of Ly Son have braved typhoons and other dangers to bring home fish, but now they also have to contend with patrols sent by Beijing to assert its territorial claims.
Swept along by nationalist sentiment, and forced to venture ever further out to sea to fill its nets, Asia's fishing fleet is increasingly on the frontline of escalating territorial tensions in the region.
In recent years, China has begun aggressively patrolling around the contested Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea - known in Vietnam as the East Sea - using fishing bans and patrol boats to keep foreign trawlers out.
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