West Philippine Sea

Philippines hits China’s ‘unilateral’ fishing ban for raising tensions in West Philippine Sea

Bea Cupin

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Philippines hits China’s ‘unilateral’ fishing ban for raising tensions in West Philippine Sea

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA. Philippine vessels the BRP Datu Bankaw and BRP Bagacay distribute fuel, water, and food to fisherfolk in the vicinity of Panatag Shoal off the coast of Zambales.


The DFA protests China's fishing ban 'insofar as it includes the Philippines maritime zones'

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Monday, May 27, that it had filed a protest over China’s “imposition of a unilateral, four-month-long fishing moratorium” that began on May 1 and is expected to stay in place until September 16, 2024.

Philippines hits China’s ‘unilateral’ fishing ban for raising tensions in West Philippine Sea

In a statement, the DFA said it “protested the ban insofar as it includes the Philippines maritime zones over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction” through a diplomatic note.

“The Philippines stressed that the unilateral imposition of the fishing moratorium raises tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, and 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,” added the DFA.

The DFA also cited the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, which found that China’s imposition of a fishing ban “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, 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 exclusive economic zone.”

“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; comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award; and, adhere to its commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” said the DFA.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have heightened over the past year over issues related to the West Philippine Sea, or part of the South China Sea that includes the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China claims a huge part of the South China Sea, despite the 2016 Arbitral Ruling which deemed its claims invalid.

Under Marcos, the Philippines has prioritized asserting its sovereign rights and sovereignty claims in the West Philippine Sea. China has often responded with aggressive actions – actively trying to block Philippine missions to Ayungin Shoal and Panatag Shoal, even using the China Coast Guard’s strong water cannons.

The Philippines – through the DFA, Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro, and the National Security Council – has also recently criticized China’s newly-released regulations that would allow its China Coast Guard to apprehend persons they identify as trespassers in waters China deems its own. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.