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Chinese fishing vessels still seen off Scarborough

/ 11:07 PM May 16, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese fishing vessels were spotted off Scarborough Shoal despite the first day of the fishing ban Wednesday, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said.

“If they stay there not to fish that’s OK. The ban covers only fishing activities in the area,” BFAR director Asis Perez told reporters in a phone interview.

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He said fewer Chinese vessels, however, were seen Wednesday unlike last Tuesday, noting that no fishing operations took place in the shoal.

As for the Filipino fishers, Perez said they were advised to stay away from the area because the open season ended Tuesday.

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He said that as of Tuesday night, a number of Filipino fishing boats merely passed the shoal.

Meanwhile, he said that a BFAR ship will stay in the area to continue monitoring the situation “because the shoal is a part of our territory.”

Both China and the Philippines had declared the fishing ban in the West Philippine Sea after months of bitter dispute about fishing rights in the area.

China declared an annual ban from May 16 to August 1, which was aimed to restrain overfishing. The Philippines, meanwhile, did not recognize the ban, saying it encompasses waters within Manila’s exclusive economic zone, but President Benigno Aquino III said that it was a chance to replenish local marine resources.

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TAGS: Panatag Shoal, Scarborough Shoal, Spratly Islands, West Philippine Sea
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