PH protests Chinese fishing ban in West Philippine Sea

PH protests Chinese fishing ban in West Philippine Sea

By: - Reporter /
/ 05:00 AM May 28, 2024

TIGHT GUARDING A China Coast Guard vessel keeps a close watch on a small Filipino fishing boat in this photo taken earlier this month some 93 kilometers (50 nautical miles) away from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —RICHARD A. REYES

TIGHT GUARDING A China Coast Guard vessel keeps a close watch on a small Filipino fishing boat in this photo taken earlier this month some 93 kilometers (50 nautical miles) away from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —Richard A. Reyes

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has again protested China’s annual imposition of a fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, including areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea ().

This was the Philippines’ 25th diplomatic protest against China this year and the 158th during the Marcos administration, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

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In a statement on Monday, the DFA said that China’s unilateral fishing ban within the Philippines’ EEZ violated the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

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China’s fishing ban also “raises tension” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, which contravenes the understanding between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping to de-escalate the maritime dispute, the DFA said.

“The Philippines [calls] on China to cease and desist from the conduct of illegal actions that violates the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its maritime zones,” it added.

Nearly 5-month ban

China imposed the fishing ban in the South China Sea from May 1 to Sept. 16. Earlier, it announced that its coast guard would start detaining for 60 days without trial foreigners who trespass into areas in the waterway supposedly under its jurisdiction beginning June 15.

The Philippines has opposed China’s new policy, which the DFA had said would be “in direct violation of international law.”

It instead urged Beijing to “comply with its obligations under international law,” particularly the 1982 Unclos and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award.

The DFA also asked China to “adhere to its commitments” under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”

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It cited Paragraph 716 of the 2016 arbitral award, which states that any Chinese fishing moratorium in the South China Sea that includes the Philippines’ EEZ is considered a breach of Article 56 of the Unclos “with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone.”

Baseless claim

The arbitral award handed down by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration declared without legal basis China’s claims over most of the South China Sea, including the Philippines’ EEZ.

“The unilateral imposition of the fishing moratorium raises tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, and directly contravenes the understanding between [Marcos] and Chinese President Xi Jinping to manage differences through diplomacy and dialogue and to de-escalate the situation at sea,” the DFA said.

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Since last year, China Coast Guard vessels have aggressively harassed Philippine vessels and fishing boats around Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, and tried to block resupply missions to the Philippine military outpost in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

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TAGS: exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Unclos, West Philipine Sea

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