Manila files a protest against Beijing’s fishing ban in the South China Sea
According to the Philippines, the ban “is a violation of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights.” For Ivy Banzon Abalos, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Beijing is violating Article 56 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Philippines and China are still at loggerheads over fisheries control in the South China Sea.
Yesterday, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China's fishing ban in the South China Sea, saying it encroaches into parts of the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and puts Filipino fishermen at risk of attacks by the Chinese Coast Guard.
Yesterday, fishermen and conservation groups also denounced the 1 May-to-16 August ban, which covers waters north of the 12th parallel and two of the 12 Fisheries Management Zones (FMA) of the Philippines, designated as zones 5 and 6 by the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
These zones include the waters surrounding the provinces of Antique, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cavite and Batangas.
China's annual fishing ban roughly covers the waters west of Palawan Busuanga Island, all the way north past the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc.
Encroaching into Philippine territory by Chinese law “is a violation of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights,” said Ivy Banzon Abalos, spokesperson for the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), speaking to reporters the day after Manila filed its protest in Beijing.
China’s new “Coast Guard law [. . .] effectively grants the Chinese Coast Guard freedom and authority to use force within what it considers its maritime jurisdiction,” Abalos added.
“This can curtail and put at risk the legitimate rights of Filipino fishermen to fish in Philippine territorial waters and the EEZ.”
The DFA had already protested against the law, which Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called “a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it.”
Citing paragraph 716 of the July 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea, the DFA stated that the ban violated Article 56 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) “with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its EEZ.”
The award refers to the ruling of the arbitral tribunal that invalidated China's claims in the South China Sea, including the Western Philippine Sea. The award also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Philippine fishermen.
In a statement released Tuesday, the DFA noted that “China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China's legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law. China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the Western Philippine Sea.”
The DFA strongly urged China “to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law.”
Lastly, the National Task Force for the Western Philippine Sea told Filipino fishermen to ignore the Chinese ban and continue fishing in Philippine waters.