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PH protests China’s fishing ban in SCS

<p>Department of Foreign Affairs facade <em>(File photo)</em></p>

MANILA – The Philippine government on Monday protested China’s imposition of a unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea (SCS) as it includes the maritime zones over which the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the fishing moratorium from May 1 to Sept. 16 in areas of the SCS north of the 12 degrees north latitude is a violation of international law and an impairment to the country’s maritime rights.

“The Philippines called on China to cease and desist from the conduct of illegal actions that violates the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its maritime zones,” the DFA said.

The agency also urged Beijing to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award; and to adhere to its commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Earlier, China empowered its coast guard to detain foreign trespassers in the SCS after the Philippine civilian mission to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) was completed on May 17.

According to a South China Morning Post report on Thursday, a regulatory document of Beijing that would take effect in June empowers the China Coast Guard to detain trespassers without trial for 60 days.

The DFA emphasized that the unilateral imposition of the fishing moratorium raises tensions in the WPS and the SCS.
“[It] directly contravenes the understanding between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping to manage differences through diplomacy and dialogue and to de-escalate the situation at sea,” the DFA said.

Citing Paragraph 716 of the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, the DFA added that China’s moratorium on fishing “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” is illegal.

The agency said the ban “breached Article 56 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila has yet to respond to the issue. (PNA)

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