MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday told Filipino fishermen to stay in their traditional fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea even after China reimposed an annual 3-month fishing ban that covers parts of the sea.
The law of other countries has no "extra-territorial application," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque, a lawyer.
Addressing Filipino fishermen, he said, "D’yan lang po kayo sa ating mga traditional fishing grounds."
"Andiyan naman po ang ating coast guard para pangalagaan din po ang interes ng ating mga mangingisda," Roque said in a press briefing.
(Stay there in our traditional fishing grounds. Our coast guard is there to protect the interest of our fishermen.)
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier this week opposed Beijing's May 1 to Aug. 16 fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea.
China refuses to obey the 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed court that junked its claims to about 90 percent of the waterway, including parts of the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
Beijing's fishing ban violates Article 56 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that the Philippines, as the coastal state in the disputed waters, has "sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting conserving and managing the natural resources" of the EEZ, said the DFA.
"The 2016 Arbitral Award also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen," the agency said.
"China's annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China's legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law. China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea."
The DFA urged China to "desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law."
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in late April called on Filipino fishermen to swarm the West Philippine Sea, from which the country sources 324,000 metric tons of fish annually.
The West Philippine Sea generates about 7 percent of the country’s' fisheries output in which a significant portion are shipped to Metro Manila, BFAR director Eduardo Gongona had said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this May called the Philippine arbitral victory against China a scrap of "paper", which he said could not be enforced. Roque sought to clarify it later, saying the context of the President's remark was "as far as China is concerned."
Video courtesy of PTV