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Zambales fishers to hold WPS fishing expedition amid China ban

Over 20 small boats of fishermen in Zambales will conduct collective fishing expedition in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Thursday to "assert" their rights amid China’s unilateral fishing ban over the South China Sea (SCS).

"There is no better way to assert fishing rights in our exclusive economic zone than to conduct a collective economic activity,” said Ronnel Arambulo, fishers group PAMALAKAYA national vice chairperson. 

The fishing expedition will venture 20 to 30 nautical miles off Masinloc town, according to PAMALAKAYA. 

A send-off mass will be conducted at 3 p.m. and then the participating fishing boats will start to sail at 4 p.m. The fishing expedition will be conducted 7 p.m. onwards, the group said. 

On Friday at 6 a.m., the participating boats will return the shore. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier protested China's fishing ban as it violated international law and undermined the country's sovereignty and maritime rights.

Manila said it does not recognize China’s May 1 to September 16 fishing moratorium because it included Manila's maritime zones over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.

"The Philippines called on China to cease and desist from the conduct of illegal actions that violate the Philippines' sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its maritime zones," the DFA said in a statement.

It also urged China to "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."

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Manila calls parts of the waters within its exclusive economic zone as the West Philippine Sea.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that China's claims over the South China Sea has no legal basis, a decision Beijing does not recognize. —Joviland Rita/KBK, GMA Integrated News