PH protests China fishing ban, tells Beijing to ‘cease and desist’ from ‘illegal actions’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has protested China’s “unilateral” fishing ban lasting for over three months in areas of the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea, saying it “undermines mutual trust, confidence, and respect.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it filed the protest on May 30.
It also called on China to “cease and desist from the conduct of illegal actions that violate the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its maritime zones.”
“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed a diplomatic protest against the People’s Republic of China’s 01 May 2022 unilateral imposition of a three-and-half-month fishing moratorium in areas of the South China Sea north of the 12 degrees North latitude. The fishing ban is expected to last until 16 August 2022,” the DFA said.
“In a diplomatic note dated 30 May 2022, the DFA conveyed its protest to the moratorium, which covers areas in the West Philippine Sea over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,” it added.
The DFA cited Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory against China’s expansive claims in the area.
“Paragraph 716 of the final and binding Award on the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on 12 July 2016 states that China, by promulgating its moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea ‘without exception for areas of the South China Sea falling within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and without limiting the moratorium to Chinese flagged vessels, breached 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 exclusive economic zone,’” the department added.
Further, the DFA also reiterated its continued protest against China’s “annual practice of declaring a fishing ban over areas that extend far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under the 1982 UNCLOS.”
The DFA slammed China’s fishing ban that extends to the West Philippine Sea, saying it “has no basis in law, and undermines the mutual trust, confidence, and respect that should underpin bilateral relations” as affirmed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their telesummit last April.
The Philippines, through the DFA, then called on China to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the UNCLOS as well as the 2016 arbitral ruling.
China should also adhere to its commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the DFA said.
In May 2021, the DFA also filed a similar diplomatic protest against China’s annual fishing ban.
Manila and Beijing have been locked in a long-standing maritime dispute.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in the Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
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