West PH Sea task force: Filipinos not covered by fishing ban imposed by China
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines on Tuesday (May 4) said Filipinos are not covered by a seasonal fishing ban that China imposes in the South China Sea.
“The announcement of China that it will impose a unilateral fishing ban on Chinese fishing vessels in the areas of the South China Sea north of the 12th parallel, from 1 May to 16 August 2021 is noted,” the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea said in a statement.
But it said the fishing ban does not apply to Filipino fishermen and encouraged them “to go out and fish in our waters” in the West Philippine Sea, which is the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
China’s annual summer fishing ban covers waters down to the 12th parallel of the South China Sea, which included the Paracel Islands near Vietnam and Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal near the Philippines, which have become disputed waters because of China’s territory-grabbing activities.
Manila filed and won a case against Beijing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2012 after China seized control of Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing ground, following a standoff between Chinese and Philippine navies.
China’s mythical nine-dash line claim was invalidated by the arbitral court in 2016, but China simply ignored the ruling, treating it as trash.
The resource-rich South China Sea is facing an overfishing crisis, experts have said, with the presence of massive Chinese trawlers. It is also suffering environmental damage from China’s island building, which has destroyed reef ecosystems.
The NTF-WPS said it has deployed Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Sindangan and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship MCS 3005 to enforce the country’s fisheries laws and protect its fishermen in Panatag Shoal.
The PCG’s BRP Malapascua, meanwhile, is on its way to the municipality of Kalayaan, the task force said.
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