Filipino fisherfolk defies China's "fishing ban" in the West PH Sea

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

The Panatag Fisherfolks Association and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) went on a “collective fishing expedition” in the seas near Masinloc, Zambales on May 30 to 31 to challenge the China-imposed “fishing ban.” The May to September 16 ban covers areas of the South China Sea “north of 12 degrees North latitude” including Panatag Shoal (Scarborough), which is 124-nautical miles (224 kilometers) from Zambales.

Besides fisherfolk, leaders of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Pilipinong Nagkaikaisa para sa Soberanya, League of Filipino Students, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers also joined the voyage. Representatives of the Makabayan bloc, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro also participated.

Aside from defying China’s “fishing ban”, the expedition also called for the “complete demilitarization” of the West Philippine Sea. The group refers to China’s construction of islands and US imperialist military aggression masquerading as “freedom of navigation” operations in the seas.

They also condemned the US for the recent bombing in the Zambales seas during the Balikatan war games. Since then, fish catches and profits have declined everytime they sail.

In its 2016 decision in The Hague, the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s alleged 9-dash line covering the entire South China Sea. It specified the Philippine maritime territory covering 12-nautical miles (22 kilometers) from its shores, and the 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelves. It recognized the Panatag Shoal as a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen and said Chinese acts to prevent Filipino fisherfolk from fishing in the reef was a violation.

Filipino fisherfolk defies China's "fishing ban" in the West PH Sea