MANILA, May 8, 2019, PhilStar. Hanoi has expressed opposition against Beijing’s imposition of its annual fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, which also includes the West Philippine Sea. On May 1, the Chinese agricultural ministry announced the start of the annual fishing ban which will last until August 16, reported the Philippine Star.
The fishing ban covers areas also claimed by other countries such as Vietnam’s Paracel Islands and the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal, according to Vietnamese online news site VnExpress.
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry condemned China’s unilateral fishing ban, pointing out that it violates Hanoi’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and contradicts the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Vietnam opposes and resolutely rejects China’s unilateral fishing ban decision,” Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang earlier said.
Hang also stressed that the unilateral fishing ban also violates the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations.
The fishing moratorium in the disputed South China Sea will cover both Chinese and foreign fishermen. Beijing warned that those who will violate the ban will be detained and fined.
According to a report from Hanoi Times, China’s fishing ban also violates the July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.
The report cited Nguyen Thai Giang and Tran Quang Chau, researchers at the East Sea Institute of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, who noted that the ban also covers the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The arbitral award also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS upon constructing artificial islands in Manila’s EEZ. China, however, refuses to acknowledge this landmark ruling.
Patricia Lourdes Viray