Philippines to bring China fishing law to ASEAN

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 17 2014 03:22 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2014 11:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will discuss with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) the new fisheries law of China that raises both regional and international concern for its serious implications.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday he would raise China’s fishing restrictions with his counterparts at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, which began on Jan. 15 and ends this Saturday.

Del Rosario is in Bagan, Myanmar for the meeting.

“The reported new Hainan fisheries regulations have serious implications on freedom of navigation, maritime security, respect for UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and regional peace and stability,” Del Rosario said in a statement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday that China responded to the Philippines’ call for clarification of its new fisheries law, with Beijing insisting that it is not a new measure but an implementation of their fishing regulations covering Hainan.

“As an international issue, all concerned countries should be able to express their views in our common search for security and stability based on the rule of law,” Del Rosario said.

China came under fire Tuesday at a US House joint committee hearing for its alleged propensity to use coercion, bullying and “salami slicing tactics” to secure its maritime interests in the East and South China Seas.

“We take note of the recent pronouncement by members of the US Congress concerning disputes in the seas of East Asia,” Del Rosario said.

He stressed that the Philippine government has always advocated a peaceful and rules-based settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, particularly UNCLOS.

“Stakeholders in these disputes should refrain from acts that are detrimental to peace and stability of the region and ensure global economic progress through unimpeded maritime commerce,” he said.

The DFA reiterated its strong protest on June 28, 2012 as the jurisdiction of Hainan province includes Philippine territories and impinges on the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines called on China to conform to international law, particularly the UNCLOS.

It asked Beijing to immediately clarify the regulation, saying it is a gross violation of international law.

The new fisheries law issued by the Hainan Provincial People’s Congress requires foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese authorities before they are allowed to fish or conduct surveying activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The DFA said China’s latest move would only further escalate tensions in the disputed territory and affect peace and stability in the region.

The US slammed China for the new fishing restrictions in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, saying they were “provocative and potentially dangerous.”

Move aims to weaken food security

A lawmaker warned that China’s move to restrict foreign fishing vessels in the disputed West Philippine Sea was aimed at weakening the country’s food security.

Assistant Majority Leader and Palawan Rep. Franz Josef Alvarez described Beijing’s imposition of a fishing permit on parts of the West Philippine Sea it is claiming as its own as a “blow to our stomachs, and an assault on our food security.” – Paolo Romero