Vietnam dismisses China fishing ban in East Sea

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has voiced Vietnam's opposition to and dismissed China's unilateral ban on fishing in the East Sea for the next two-and-a half months, Vietnam News Agency reported.


The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture clamped the annual fishing ban in the northern part of the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, on Thursday, saying it is aimed at protecting marine resources and promoting environmental awareness among fishermen.


Around 20,000 fishing boats from the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Hainan and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region would be affected, China Daily reported.


The ban also applies to foreign boats fishing in the area.


The ban, introduced in 1999, will last until August 1.


On Wednesday Luong Thanh Nghi, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman, told the media that the banned area encompasses Vietnamese waters and violates Vietnam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, its sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


He said the ban goes against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.


Vietnam regards the ban as null and void, he added.


The Philippines on Monday refused to recognize the ban, saying it encompasses waters around the Scarborough Shoal which it considers its own, AFP reported.


Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario said the Philippines may impose a similar ban given the depletion of marine resources in its territorial waters.


"Our position is we do not recognize China's fishing ban in as much as portions of the ban encompass our EEZ (exclusive economic zone)," del Rosario said in a statement.


"But President [Aquino] has decided that, in view of the accelerated depletion of our marine resources, it would be advisable for us to issue our own fishing ban for a period of time to replenish our fish stock."


The standoff at the Scarborough Shoal began when China blocked an attempt by the Philippines on April 8 to arrest Chinese fishermen who were allegedly taking government-protected marine species from the area.


The two nations have since stationed non-military vessels at the shoal in an effort to assert their sovereignty over the area.


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