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Fishing our waters

On May 1, Beijing implemented its annual fishing moratorium over the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and waters north to 12 degrees north latitude of the South China Sea. This unilateral fishing ban covers areas where the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

In response, the Philippines has stressed that it does not recognize China’s imposition of the unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

Citing the July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash claim over the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs stressed that such fishing moratorium “breached Article 36 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone.”

“China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law,” the DFA said in a statement released Tuesday night.

The DFA also noted that the 2016 arbitral award affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea also said China’s fishing ban does not cover Filipino fishermen and encouraged them to go out and fish in Philippine waters.

China’s fishing ban is a test of our government’s resolve to exercise our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our own exclusive economic zone. As the DFA categorically states that our country does not recognize the moratorium and the NTF-WPS encourages Filipino fishermen to continue fishing, government has to join hands and deploy the resources to ensure that Filipinos are protected from the harassment that has become part of those waters, fishing ban or none.*

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