Philippines rejects Chinese fishing ban in West Philippine Sea
MANILA - The Philippines does not recognize China's annual fishing ban that covers the West Philippine Sea, the country's national security adviser said Wednesday.
The fishing moratorium imposed by China since 1999 runs from May 1 to Aug. 16 and covers areas of the South China Sea as well as other waters off China.
"Hindi naman covered ang ating fishing boats d'yan. Sa kanila lang 'yun. Ba't sila magpoproklama ng fishing ban sa ating West Philippine Sea, sa ating EEZ (exclusive economic zone)?" National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(Our fishing boats are not covered under this ban, only theirs. Why would declare a fishing ban in our West Philippine Sea, our EEZ?)
"This fishing ban does not apply to our fishermen and the NTF-WPS opposes China’s imposition of the same over the areas within the territory and jurisdiction of the Philippines. The NTF-WPS reiterates that our fisherfolk are encouraged to go out and fish in our waters in the WPS," Esperon said in a statement earlier Wednesday.
Manila, which refers to area as the West Philippine Sea, has for years been embroiled in a dispute over Beijing's sweeping claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea.
An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China's claims, but China has rejected the ruling.
Tensions between the two countries have recently escalated after Manila accused China of territorial incursions by hundreds of its vessels in the resource-rich waterway.
The Philippines has filed diplomatic protests against China over what it calls the "illegal" presence of the Chinese vessels, which it says are manned by militia.
Chinese diplomats have said the boats were just sheltering from rough seas and no militia were aboard.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines holds a "debt of gratitude" for Chinese aid, but its territorial waters "cannot be bargained."
Duterte had set aside a 2016 arbitral victory favoring Manila and invalidating Beijing's vast claim in the disputed waters as he forged friendlier relations with China for economic aid and investments. With Reuters