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China again imposes illegal fishing ban in East Sea

May 03, 2020 | 08:10

China announced its annual summer fishing ban in parts of the South China Sea (called the East Sea in Vietnam), Xinhua news agency reported on May 1. China has been issuing similar fishing bans every year in recent times and Vietnam has always condemned them.

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china again imposes illegal fishing ban in east sea
Vietnamese fishing boats are anchored off the south central coast in Binh Thuan Province, April 29, 2019. Photo by Le Dang/Vnexpress

The three-and-a-half-month ban started in the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the waters north to 12 degrees north latitude of the East Sea.

China says it enacts the fishing ban annually to preserve fishing stocks in its territorial waters, a sustainability practice.

The coast guard authority said the ban will be strictly enforced. All waters under the fishing ban will be monitored 24 hours a day and any violation will be dealt with in time, according to the China Coast Guard.

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

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.

Vietnam rejects China's fishing ban in South China Sea

In past years, both Vietnam and the Philippines have rejected China’s fishing ban over the area.

"Vietnam opposes and resolutely rejects China's unilateral fishing ban decision," foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said on May 4, 2019.

China's agriculture ministry announced the ban on Wednesday, which it said would apply to both Chinese as well as foreign vessels, warning violators would be detained and fined by Chinese authorities. Vietnam calls the waters the East Sea.

The ban is for three and a half months and covers the area between China's Fujian and Guangdong provinces, which includes Vietnam's Paracel Islands, parts of the Gulf of Tonkin and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.

The ban violates Vietnam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands and its legitimate rights and interests in its waters, as well as international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It also goes against the spirit and text of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) between ASEAN and China, and violates the Vietnam-China Agreement on the Basic Principles Guiding the Resolution of Maritime Issues, foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said on May 4, 2019.

Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, as well as its legal rights over its waters in accordance with UNCLOS, she said.

China has been issuing similar fishing bans every year in recent times and Vietnam has always condemned them.

China had seized the Paracel Islands from what was then South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying them.

In 2012 it established the so-called Sansha City with the archipelago's Woody Island as its seat.

The "city" also covers a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal.

The unilateral fishing ban follows the recent Chinese announcement of the establishment of the Xisha and Nansha districts under Sansha city, Hainan province. The Xisha administration will be based in Woody Island, of the Paracel while the Nansha administration will be placed in the Fiery Cross Reef of the Spratly.

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