SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A Chinese fishing boat captain stabbed two South Korean coast guard officers Monday, killing one and injuring the other, after his boat was stopped for illegally fishing in South Korean waters, officials said.
The Chinese captain pulled an unidentified weapon after officers from two coast guard ships boarded the fishing boat over suspicions that it was illegally operating in Yellow Sea waters rich in blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, coast guard spokesman Kim Dong-jin said.
A South Korean officer stabbed in the side was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the port city of Incheon but later died, Kim said. Also brought to the hospital were an officer stabbed in the abdomen, who was to undergo surgery, and the Chinese captain, who had minor injuries from the fight, he said.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry summoned China's ambassador in Seoul later Monday and lodged a strong protest over the fight.
Last week, Foreign Ministry officials said they asked the ambassador to make efforts to prevent illegal Chinese fishing from undermining bilateral ties.
Also last week, South Korean authorities raised fines levied on foreign fishing vessels caught operating in Seoul's self-declared exclusive economic zone, an apparent reflection of Seoul's impatience with a rising number of Chinese boats found fishing in the waters.
"Eradicating Chinese boats' illegal fishing in our waters is a most urgent task to safeguard our fishermen and fisheries resources," South Korea's Yonhap news agency said in a recent editorial. "The government should mobilize every possible means and continue the crackdown on illegal fishing."
Besides the captain, eight other Chinese fishermen on the boat were arrested and taken to Incheon, the coast guard said in a statement.
The coast guard says it has seized about 470 Chinese ships for illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea so far this year, up from 370 last year. 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 2008, one 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.
Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.