MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest in opposition to China’s fishing ban within the South China Sea, saying the prohibition encroaches into components of the nation’s unique financial zone (EEZ) and places Filipino fishermen liable to assault from the Chinese Coast Guard.
Fishermen and conservation teams on Wednesday additionally denounced the May 1-Aug. 16 ban which covers waters north of the twelfth parallel and two of the 12 fishing administration areas (FMAs) of the Philippines—designated as zones 5 and 6 by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
These zones embrace waters surrounding the provinces of Antique, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cavite, and Batangas.
The annual Chinese fishing ban roughly covers waters west of Palawan’s Busuanga Island all the best way north previous Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, additionally known as Bajo de Masinloc.
The Chinese regulation’s encroachment on Philippine territory “is a violation of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights,” Ivy Banzon Abalos, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), instructed reporters on Tuesday, a day after Manila lodged its protest with Beijing.
“And with the new Chinese Coast Guard law, it effectively grants the Chinese Coast Guard freedom and authority to use force within what it considers its maritime jurisdiction,” Abalos mentioned. “This can curtail and put at risk the legitimate rights of Filipino fishermen to fish in Philippine territorial waters and EEZ.”
Under that regulation, the Chinese Coast Guard is allowed to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”
‘Verbal threat of war’
The DFA earlier protested in opposition to the regulation, which Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. mentioned was “a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it.
The DFA mentioned China’s unilateral ban didn’t exempt areas with the Philippines’ EEZ and didn’t restrict it to Chinese vessels.
Citing Paragraph 716 of the July 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea, it mentioned the prohibition 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 EEZ.”
The award refers back to the ruling of the arbitral tribunal that invalidated China’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea, together with the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The award additionally affirmed the normal and bonafide fishing rights of Filipino fishermen.
“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 West Philippine Sea,” the DFA mentioned in a press release on Tuesday.
It additionally strongly urged China “to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law.”
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea has instructed Filipino fishermen to disregard the Chinese ban and proceed fishing in Philippine waters.
In an online video convention with representatives of the worldwide marine conservation group Oceana, resident Geographic Information System professional Jessie Floren mentioned the ban was controversial in that it didn’t outline the longitudinal areas coated.
The FMAs designated by BFAR are protected by science-based measures and are delineated based mostly on plenty of components, together with the fish shares out there, the construction of fisheries and the distribution of their assets, amongst others.
According to Asis Perez, convener of Tugon Kabuhayan and former BFAR chief, FMA 5 and 6 are crucial to sustaining the fish provide of the provinces round these areas and in addition of Metro Manila.
About 70 % of Palawan’s catch of “galunggong,” or spherical scad, goes to the metropolis whereas Mindoro provides tuna. Waters off Zambales and Ilocos additionally yield tuna, galunggong and different pelagic species, he mentioned.
The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday mentioned China had “no right and moral ascendancy to impose a fishing ban under the pretext of conservation as they are the ones plundering marine resources through reclamation and annexation activities.”
“There is actually an indefinite and undeclared fishing ban in nearly the entire South China Sea, courtesy of the continued presence of Chinese vessels that create intimidation among Filipino fishers,” it added.
Zambales fishermen have reportedly deserted their common fishing grounds after being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard.
Both Pamalakaya and Oceana known as on President Rodrigo Duterte to say the nation’s rights and to intensify maritime patrols within the West Philippine Sea.
Oceana Philippines authorized and coverage director Liza Osorio mentioned that whereas the Philippines’ assets have been dwarfed by China’s marine arsenal, the federal government ought to use diplomatic channels to say its sovereign rights in its EEZ.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros supported the DFA’s pronouncement in opposition to China’s fishing ban, as the 2016 arbitral award affirmed the official fishing rights of Filipinos of their territorial waters.
“This is only one of the many reasons why our 2016 victory is certainly not a mere piece of paper, as some of our officials claim,” she mentioned in a press release, referring to such assertion from Duterte himself.
She known as on the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, BFAR and the Filipino fisherfolk to proceed patrolling and venturing out to sea.
“I hope that we in the Philippines, we who have the legal right in the WPS, can unanimously agree to take ownership of a territory that is rightfully ours,” she mentioned.
—WITH A REPORT FROM MELVIN GASCON
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get entry to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & different 70+ titles, share as much as 5 devices, hearken to the information, obtain as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.