Group to Duterte admin: Defy, protest China fishing ‘ban’ in disputed waters

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) is urging the Duterte administration to protest and defy China’s “fishing ban” as a fish conservation measure in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a news statement denouncing and rejecting the Chinese fishing ban in the disputed territory from May 1 to August 16, Pamalakaya National Chairman Fernando Hicap said China has no right and moral ascendancy to declare a fishing ban in the area considering the damage of its overfishing it has already caused.

During the said fishing ban, Beijing threated to “arrest illegal fishers from Vietnam and the Philippines.”

The three-and-a-half-month fishing ban covers the Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal—parts of the South China Sea that Vietnam and Philippines also claim.

Hicap insisted on the ruling of the international tribunal based in The Hague which favors the country’s claim over the Scarborough Shoal and other parts of the Spratly Islands being occupied by China.

“The audacity of China to accuse Filipinos and Vietnamese fishermen as ‘illegal fishers,’ when they are actually the ones engaged in massive illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in our seas,” Hicap lamented.

According to Hicap, the Duterte administration should not waste time and wait until Filipino fishermen are apprehended by Chinese maritime enforcers.

“It should publicly condemn and protest this another Chinese bullying straight away. We have international and local fisheries laws with us that can be enforced to counter China’s aggression,” Hicap said.

Hicap said Section 3 of the Republic Act  8550, otherwise known as the Fisheries Code of 1998, clearly states that the disputed territory is within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf and falls within the mandate of the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and other law-enforcement agencies.

“The DA and BFAR have long neglected their duty in enforcing the fisheries law that would protect our marine resources and the livelihood of our fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea,” added Hicap.

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