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Philippines protests China's unilateral fishing ban in South China Sea

Philippines protests China's unilateral fishing ban in South China Sea

The Department of Foreign Affairs has protested China's unilateral fishing ban in the disputed South China Sea, where the Philippines and other neighboring Asian states have overlapping claims.

Manila said it does not recognize China’s fishing moratorium from May 1 to August 16 as it covers waters in areas where the Philippines exercises "sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”

China imposed the three and a half-month fishing moratorium "in areas of the South China Sea north of the 12 degrees North latitude."

"In a diplomatic note dated 30 May 2022, the DFA conveyed its protest to the moratorium, which covers areas in the West Philippine Sea over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction," the department said in a statement Tuesday.

Paragraph 716 of the Award of the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on July 12, 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands states that any Chinese fishing moratorium in the South China Sea that includes the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone is illegal, the DFA said.

"The Philippines calls on China to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the final and binding Award on the South China Sea Arbitration; cease and desist from the conduct of illegal actions that violate the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its maritime zones; and adhere to its commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)," the DFA said.

The Netherlands-based tribunal, which ruled in favor of the Philippines, also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen.

"The declaration of a moratorium on fishing that extends to the West Philippine Sea has no basis in law, and undermines the mutual trust, confidence, and respect that should underpin bilateral relations, as affirmed most recently by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jinping during their Telesummit on 08 April 2022," the DFA said.

China has rejected the 2016 international tribunal ruling and maintained indisputable and historic rights over 90 percent of the South China Sea — a major shipping route and said to be harboring rich oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the resource-rich waters. —KG, GMA News