75 Taiwan fishing boats head to Diaoyu to protest Japan

Several dozen fishing boats set off to Diaoyu Islands, from Suao port in Ilan County, northeastern Taiwan, September 24, 2012. Photo: Reuters

 About seventy five Taiwanese fishing boats set sail from the northeastern Taiwanese port of Yilan on Monday afternoon, heading toward the Diaoyu Islands to protest against Japan's illegal nationalization of the disputed isles in the East China Sea.

More than 10 warships were sent by the Coast Guard sector of Taiwan to accompany these boats to ensure their safety.

The vessels are expected to arrive in waters outside the islands Tuesday morning. 

Representatives of Taiwanese fishermen told reporters that the boats will gather in waters about 37 kilometers southwest of the Diaoyu Islands and sail around the islands in protest at Japan's decision earlier this month to nationalize them.

They said they would not rule out the possibility of landing on the island.

Taiwanese fishermen say they fear the Japanese nationalization decision could make it impossible for them to operate in waters around the Diaoyu Islands, their traditional fishing grounds.

The Taiwanese vessels that set sail from Yilan carried banners proclaiming "We must protect our fishing rights." 

The vessels also carried a group of Taiwan journalists.

Fishermen based in Yilan said fishing boats from other Taiwanese ports may join the protest.

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