By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA — A Filipino fisherfolk group is rejecting the imposition of China to implement a fishing ban that extends to the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea, saying that they have “no political and moral ascendancy to impose a fishing moratorium in our exclusive economic zone.”
“The audacity of China to impose a fishing ban on the pretext of marine conservation when it is the one plundering our marine waters through its aggression. If there’s something that should be banned permanently in the West Philippine Sea, it must be Beijing’s destructive reclamation, artificial island-building, and massive poaching activities,” Bobby Roldan, vice-chairperson of Pamalakaya, said in a statement.
Per China’s recent pronouncement, the three-and-a-half-month fishing ban will be in place until August this year. The Department of Foreign Affairs has already filed a diplomatic protest on this.
Last week, Filipino and Taiwanese marine researchers were reportedly harassed by the Chinese coast guards while conducting a study in the West Philippine Sea. This despite their collaborative grant being provided with all the necessary permits by the Philippine government, said Agham, a group of Filipino scientists.
China, the group said, has no business interfering with the joint study, adding that it is them that has been conducting illegal research in the disputed waters even without securing permits from the Philippine government. These marine studies, too, said Agham, are being “weaponized by China to bully Southeast Asian countries and further strengthen its illegitimate nine-dash line claim.”
Meanwhile, Roldan said Filipino fishers will continue to operate in the country’s waters.