MANILA -- Coast guard vessels from the Philippines and Taiwan engaged in an hours-long standoff after the Philippine patrol boat tried to tow away a Taiwanese fishing vessel for alleged poaching, the Filipino coast guard spokesman said Wednesday.
The waters in the overlapping exclusive economic zones have been a source of tension between the two Asian neighbors. Two years ago, a Philippine coast guard patrol fired on a Taiwanese fishing boat, killing a crew member and straining otherwise friendly relations.
Cmdr. Armand Balilo said that the Taiwanese fishing boat was caught last week 33 kilometers (18 nautical miles) off Batanes, one of the Philippines' northernmost islands just south of Taiwan.
Balilo said that Taiwan's coast guard cutter then blocked the Philippine vessel that was towing the fishing boat, setting off a four-hour standoff that ended with the Philippine crew releasing the boat.
Another Taiwanese fishing boat apprehended about three weeks earlier also near Batanes was released after it paid a $50,000 fine.
A staffer at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office said there is "no statement on that matter."
Despite the incident, Balilo said they will continue to apprehend foreigners conducting illegal fishing activities in the country's waters.
In 2013, a coast guard personnel shot and killed a Taiwanese fisherman while chasing a fishing vessel conducting illegal poaching operations near Itbayat in Batanes.
The incident sparked an outrage from the Taiwanese government, which even threatened to send home more than 100,000 overseas Filipino workers in the island country.(AP/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)