South China Sea warning: Beijing vows to arrest ‘illegal’ Vietnam and Philippines fishers

The three-and-a-half-month ban has meant that China has demanded foreign fishing vessels to refrain from any activities in or around the Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal. In previous years, both Vietnam and the Philippines have rejected China’s enforcement of a fishing ban over the area.

China has previously abstained from arresting any fishermen from Vietnam and the Philippines, but have arrested Chinese fishing vessels for violating the ban.

This year, the China Coast Guard (CCG) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have announced a campaign to crack down on all illegal fishermen.

The China Coast Guard and the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs started the campaign on Friday to strengthen port monitoring, maritime patrols, fishing boat regulation and the crackdown on illegal activities.

Local authorities will be asked to publicise the fishing ban policy, which is regarded as the most important and effective system for protecting the fishery resources in China

The New China News Agency, said: “The coast guard authority will strictly enforce the ban according to relevant laws and regulations, cracking down on crimes and unlawful acts, to safeguard the rights and interests of marine fisheries and protect the marine ecological environment.”

The ban comes as China’s National People’s Congress draft a revision to the People’s Armed Police (PAP), China’s paramount police and paramilitary force.

Under the proposed revision, the PAP will have expanded duties for maritime law enforcement, which will protect China’s rights to its sea territories and maritime intelligence.

The PAP will also no longer responsible for disaster response functions like fire-fighting under the revision.

The police previously reshuffled and put under China’s Central Military Commission alongside armed forces like the People’s Liberation Army Navy and People’s Liberation Army Air Force in 2017.

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Beijing says it enforces the fishing ban annually to preserve fishing stocks in its territorial waters.

China is known for being one of the largest sources of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in the region, according to the 2019 IUU Fishing Index.

It is also not a member of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre, the main intergovernmental organisation in Southeast Asia devoted to fisheries protection and sustainable development.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines are members.

The fishing ban will run from May 1 to August 16.

It comes after China announced domination over two new administrative districts, which include areas already claimed by other nations.

On Thursday, the Philippines “strongly” protested the move, calling it a violation of Philippine sovereignty.

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