The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have urged Filipino fishers to continue encircling the Philippine-covered territories despite China's fishing ban in almost the entire region of the West Philippine Sea.
The Chinese Ministry on Agriculture and Rural Affairs China website announced the fishing ban that began this May to August 16.
The fishing ban covers areas in the ocean that fall into the EEZ or exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, including Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.
The Philippines has already filed a diplomatic protest against China's fishing ban.
In a report by Chino Gaston on GMA News 24 Oras on Wednesday, Admiral Artemio Abu, Commandant of the PCG, said that Filipino fishers are still free to fish in Philippine waters even if China includes it in their fishing ban.
“Lahat ng ahensiya ng pamahalaan ang BFAR, ang Navy, of course the Coast Guard nandyan po kami para hikayatin ang ating mga kababayang mangingisda na maging malaya sila na mangisda doon sa lugar na masasabi natin sa atin, teritoryo natin yon,” the official said.
(All government agencies, the BFAR, the Navy, and the Coast Guard are there to encourage our fellow fishers to be free to fish in the area that we can tell, that is our territory.)
PCG, BFAR urge Filipinos to continue fishing in West Philippine Sea
In a text message from Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona of BFAR, he said that they and the PCG continue to patrol the areas covered by the Philippines.
“PCG and BFAR will be there on visibility patrol primarily to take care of our fishermen, the fishing vessel and the environment. We are still on open fishing season so we advise out fishermen to go out and fish. We should be optimizing catching the catchable fish in our waters,” said Gongona.
Prof. Rommel Banlaoi, a political scientist/security analyst, said that the Philippines and Filipino fishers should not recognize China's fishing ban.
“Testing waters ito eh. Kung nag-comply tayo sa fishing ban, wow, okey so magkakaroon ng customary law na ‘yan. Magiging parang practice na ‘yan ng China. Pero kung icha-challenge natin yung fishing ban, so let's see how China will react to it,” said Banlaoi.
“We need to challenge it for the sake of our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added.