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Palace to Filipino fishers: Stay put in West Philippine Sea amid China's fishing ban

Filipino fisherfolk should continue fishing in the West Philippine Sea despite China’s implementation of a fishing ban in the area, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the position two days after the Philippines protested China’s fishing ban from May 1 to August 16, with the Department of Foreign Affairs saying Beijing’s fishing moratorium “extends far beyond legitimate maritime entitlements under  United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and is without basis under international law.”

“Wala pong extraterritorial application ng mga batas ng mga dayuhang bansa ‘no. So diyan lang po kayo sa ating mga tradisyunal na fishing grounds,” Roque said.

(There is no such thing as extraterritorial application of a law by a foreign country. To our fisherfolk, you can stay on  our traditional fishing grounds.)

“Nandiyan naman po ang ating Coast Guard para pangalagaan din po ang interes ng ating mga mangingisda (Our Coast Guard is there to protect the interest of our fisherfolk),” he added.

UNCLOS extends the territorial jurisdiction of maritime states up to 200 nautical miles from its territorial sea by identifying this as an exclusive economic zone where the country can exercise sovereign rights or the right to explore and exploit resources.

China's fishing ban came almost two years since the June 2019 incident wherein a Chinese fishing vessel sank a Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 in Reed Bank, an area within the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as ruled by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016. 

The 22 Gem-Ver 1 crew members on board, fortunately, were rescued by Vietnamese fisherfolk who saw the Filipinos around five hours after their boat was rammed by the Chinese.—AOL, GMA News