PAMALAKAYA rejects Chinese fishing ban in South China Sea; enhanced maritime patrols sought

Manila, Philippines – China has 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, according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Wednesday, defying the unilateral Chinese fishing ban in the South China Sea.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA urged the Filipino fishers to exercise their fishing rights in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to defy the unilateral fishing ban.

“The Chinese fishing ban deserves a defiance both from the Filipino fishers, as well as fisherfolks from other claimant countries of South China Sea. The audacity of Beijing to impose a fishing ban in territorial waters that they have no any legal and political claims,” Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon said in a statement.

Roldan, a local fisherman in Zambales earlier lamented the dispossession of Filipino fishers of Scarborough Shoal (locally known as Panatag Shoal), due to permanent presence of at least two Chinese vessels in the traditional fishing grounds.

“There is actually indefinite and undeclared fishing ban in nearly the entire South China Sea courtesy of continued presence of Chinese vessels that create intimidation among Filipino fishers. Most of our fishers were forced to abandon the Panatag Shoal we used to frequent in fear of being harassed or driven away by Chinese vessels permanently patrolling in the area,” Roldan lamented.

The fishers’ group also urged the Philippine government to ensure the safety of Filipino fishers as the group raised fear that non-Chinese vessels might be targeted during the ban by Chinese enforcers. PAMALAKAYA also feared for the safety of Filipino fishers as the controversial China Coast Guard law which explicitly empowers Chinese personnel, might be used as an “enforcement mechanism” during the fishing ban.

“Our authorities should heighten maritime patrols while the Chinese fishing ban is in place. This is to ensure our fishing safety in our own territorial waters,” Roldan added.

Part of its annual summer fishing ban purportedly to “conserve fish stocks” in the South China Sea, Beijing imposed three-and-a-half-month fishing ban that covers Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal from May 1 to August 16. ###

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