China imposes fishing ban in South China Sea
() - May 14, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China is set to enforce a fishing ban in large swaths of the South China Sea for two-and-a-half months starting this Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

A Chinese fisheries official said the ban would cover Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

The move is a reiteration of the summer fishing ban declared by China every year since 1999 in the waters that it claims as part of its territory.

The enforcement of the ban from May 16 to Aug. 1 was announced by the head of the South China Sea fisheries administration bureau, who told Xinhua that the ban covered Huangyan – the Chinese name for Scarborough. The ban is meant ostensibly to protect marine ecosystems and resources.

The ban would cover Chinese and foreign fishermen alike, including those from countries that are laying claim to parts of the Spratlys and other islands and reefs dotting the South China Sea.

The start of the fishing ban was announced amid escalating tension between Manila and Beijing over Panatag, which the Philippines says has been part of Masinloc town in Zambales since Spanish times.

Last January when China announced that the ban would be imposed, Vietnam, which claims part of the Spratlys and Paracel Islands, protested.

Vietnamese fishermen have defied similar bans in the past three years. Scores were arrested and their boats impounded by Chinese authorities.

A Xinhua report said the ban “means no fishing will be allowed except for mono-layer gillnets, and hook and line fishing.”

China will confiscate boats, fish catch and fishing gear of violators. Chinese fishermen will face fines and their licenses will be suspended.

A CHINESE BAN CHINA FISHING LAST JANUARY MANILA AND BEIJING PANATAG SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLYS AND PARACEL ISLANDS XINHUA XINHUA NEWS AGENCY
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