A Philippine court handed down long prison terms to 12 Chinese fishermen for illegal fishing, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.
The boat captain, identified by court documents as Liu Chiangjie, was jailed 12 years while his 11 crew members got six to 10 years, the report said, citing a court official.
The 12 were arrested in April 2013 in Tubbataha Reef, a marine sanctuary in the western Philippine island of Palawan famed for its pristine dive spot, after their 48-meter boat hit and badly damaged it.
They were also fined US$100,000 each and their boat was confiscated.
It was the first time foreigners had been found guilty of violating an anti-poaching law that gives Tubbataha Reef protected status, the report said.
The 12 pleaded not guilty to all charges.
They were among dozens of Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen detained in Palawan for illegal fishing.
Among the others are nine Chinese fishermen who were arrested on May 6 off Half Moon Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop claimed by both China and the Philippines.
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