French Polynesian authorities have released an impounded Chinese fishing vessel after its owner paid the cost of retrieving another of its ships that became stranded on a reef.

Ping Tai Rong 316 was released after its owners paid a $1.5 million bond, having been impounded in Papeete for two weeks in an unprecedented move by authorities.

Owner Ping Tai Rong Ocean Fishery Group had failed to respond to demands for the estimated $4.8 million cost of removing tuna longliner Ping Tai Rong 49, which ran aground on Anuanurunga atoll on July 23.

The owner contested the seizure but its appeal was dismissed by the courts. The bond arrived on Oct. 29 and the ship was immediately released, Radio 1 Tahiti reported.

The $1.5 million would be used to fund some of the recovery costs of 40-meter-long Ping Tai Rong 49, whose radar was found to be faulty and had an incomplete map. The stranding of the vessel sparked an immediate response from French Polynesian authorities, as it was carrying more than 31,000 gallons of fuel.

The vessel owner had reportedly contracted the removal of the ship from uninhabited Anuanurunga atoll.

French Polynesian authorities said the impounding of the ship sent a strong message, especially to foreign ship owners.

“In doing so, the country reminds the owners of ships passing through the waters of our [Exclusive Economic Zone] that Polynesia does not intend to be a garbage can for wrecks and that it will deploy all the means available to it by law to defend and preserve its oceanic environment,” the release stated.






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