Tag Archives: Fishing Rights

Beaten Up By China For Going Fishing

Vietnamese fishermen say they are being attacked by China with increasing regularity. Their boats have been rammed, equipment broken and crewmen beaten up. Vietnam accuses Beijing of trying to force them out of waters in the South China Sea where their families have fished for generations. As the breaking dawn casts a red-orange rim around the horizon of the South China Sea, Vo Van Giau kneels on the front deck of the fishing boat and locks his hands behind his head. “That is what they made me do,” he says, pushing his head hard down. “Then they beat me with steel rods and a hammer like this.” He pulls a heavy wooden mallet from a bundle of fishing equipment and strikes himself softly on his shoulders and against his sides. Van Giau, who is 42, shows photographs of his injuries on his phone – huge, welling bruises and cuts. The attack lasted well over an hour and he needed hospital treatment. He tells how, in July, Chinese coastguards rammed into his wooden boat – badly damaging it – while he was fishing in waters near the Paracel Islands. They lie about 175 miles (280km) off the Vietnamese mainland – roughly the same distance they are from Chinese island province of Hainan. Van Giau lives on the small island of Ly Son – in the past year Vietnam says almost half of the island’s boats fishing in this area have come under attack from the Chinese. “My father fished these waters, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. From ancient times they have belonged to Vietnam. Now China has claimed them and invaded them illegally,” says Van Giau. This boat is owned by a friend, 62-year-old Vo Van Chuc who has had fishing nets and tackle, together with his catch of fish, stolen by the Chinese coastguard. “All of us are threatened every time we go out,” says Van Chuc. The boat is small and cramped and cluttered. A faded Vietnamese flag flies on a mast at the front and another above the wheelhouse. Inside there is no state-of-the-art marine equipment, just a radio, a compass and old, rusting dials. Read more: http://dailycapital.pk/beaten-up-by-china-for-going-fishing/

Taiwan, Philippines to cooperate in fisheries law enforcement

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) Taiwan and the Philippines have concluded a fisheries agreement, which will take effect immediately after an official announcement has been made, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release Thursday. The Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries Matters, concluded Nov. 5, contains seven articles and includes three important points of consensus that have already been implemented — avoiding the use of violence or unnecessary force, establishing an emergency notification system, and setting up a prompt release mechanism, according to the press release. Aimed at seeking peaceful solutions to fishery disputes, the agreement, nevertheless, does not touch on the contiguous zone issue. Read more: http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201511190015.aspx

Fisheries pact to avert sea disputes

THE Philippines and Taiwan have signed a fisheries agreement that is envisioned to prevent a repeat of the 2013 Balintang Channel incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was fatally shot by a Philippine Coast Guard patrol. Taiwan, China and the Philippines have overlapping claims to the channel, which is both within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) range prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Manila and Taipei. The agreement was signed in Taipei by Gary Song-huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Antonio Basilio of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office. In a statement, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement was signed on November 5. “The pact is expected to effectively reduce fisheries disputes in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones and protect the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen operating legally,” the statement read. After the signing, both sides immediately convened the first Technical Working Group meeting that reached a consensus on two mechanisms–a one-hour advance notification to the other party and release of detained vessels and crew within three days. Read more: http://www.manilatimes.net/fisheries-pact-to-avert-sea-disputes/230179/

South China Sea: the far-reaching consequences of island-building

WASHINGTON – What has been largely overlooked in the conversation to date around China’s campaign of dredging and construction in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea is the necessary synthesis between the geopolitical and environmental aspects of the issue. In recent months, U.S. Navy patrols in the South China Sea and denouncements by high-ranking U.S. officials have brought international attention to the troubling security implications of China’s actions. A secondary line of reporting across the English-speaking world has also emphasized the ecological damage this artificial island-building is causing to a large system of coral reefs, with high-resolution satellite data illustrating the extent and pace of the damage. With regard to these two lines of analysis — security and ecology — the conversation to date has been notably and regrettably stove-piped. To be clear, China’s actions is a violation of international law, a potential precursor to interference in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and a catalyst for military confrontation. The worst case scenario — wherein the People’s Liberation Army Navy is able to “lock down” the South China Sea and prevent freedom of navigation by, say, a U.S. Navy carrier strike group or liquefied natural gas tankers headed for Japan — is worrisome on multiple levels. But geopolitical concerns actually go hand in hand with ecological concerns. The Spratly Islands’ coral reefs serve as spawning grounds and nurseries for nearly 400 fish species, including various commercially important stocks. Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/11/16/commentary/world-commentary/south-china-sea-far-reaching-consequences-island-building/#.Vk-xfd8rLab

The Cost to Doing Nothing in the South China Sea

President Obama’s visit to the Philippines this week will train a spotlight on the fiercely contested South China Sea. Both he and his hosts will likely call on China and other claimants to maintain the status quo in the region until their various differences can be resolved. Yet while that may be the best one can hope for geopolitically, it could be a disaster environmentally. In 2012, the South China Sea accounted for around 12 percent of the global seafood catch. If nothing changes, according to a new report from scientists at the University of British Columbia, those waters could lose nearly 60 percent of their stocks by 2045. Preventing that disaster isn’t impossible, but it’ll require multilateral talks and regional agreements on resource sharing that seem impossible given current tensions. Overfishing isn’t a problem confined to Asia, of course. But due to the leading role that seafood plays in regional diets and economies, the problem is more acute here and has only become more so as the region has grown more affluent. Data collected by UBC researchers show that catches have steadily increased along with the number of fishermen since the 1950s. By the mid-1990s, quantities of fish in some parts of the South China Sea had already shrunk by 90 percent compared to mid-1960s levels. Every country in the region has played a role in that decline. Still, over the last four decades, China’s naturally had the biggest impact. Between 1978 and 2013, China’s fishery production increased from 5 million tons to 60 million tons per year. In 2013, it accounted for 17 percent of the global catch — and nearly half of the South China Sea catch (worth around $21 billion). Read more: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-16/the-cost-to-doing-nothing-in-the-south-china-sea

China Is Building a New South China Sea Fleet for its Maritime Militia

China is building a new South China Sea fishing fleet for its maritime militia in a move that could intensify regional disputes, an expert told a conference at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Wednesday. China’s maritime militia – one of the more understudied agencies in the exercise of Chinese maritime power – typically uses civilian fishing vessels for a range of missions from rescuing stranded vessels to conducting controversial island landings. While voices in China have long called for their inclusion in activities, this would be the first time that the militia would get its own fishing fleet, a boost for the world’s largest producer and exporter of fish and consumer of seafood. “It appears that China is building a state-owned fishing fleet for its maritime militia force in the South China Sea,” Zhang Hongzhou, associate research fellow at Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told an audience at the two-day conference on Chinese maritime power.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/china-is-building-a-new-south-china-sea-fleet-for-its-maritime-militia/

Pagasa Filipinos feel threatened as Beijing grows more aggressive

MANILA/SINGAPORE – On a clear night, the Filipinos who live on Pagasa Island — a speck in the vast South China Sea — can see the floodlights from giant Chinese cranes working around the clock, dredging sand to build up a nearby reef. Life on the atoll with its clutch of buildings was for decades leisurely and quiet, with sporadic Internet access and not much to do but fish and stroll on the beach. Now its 120-odd residents find themselves on the doorstep of a dispute over territory that has fed tensions among some of the world’s biggest powers. Change has come to Pagasa in the constant presence of China. More than 510 miles (820 kilometers) from the Philippine capital, and defended by a platoon of soldiers with limited weapons, the island is a gateway to reefs that are claimed and occupied by China. Separated from the nearest big Philippine island by a 36-hour boat ride in rough seas, it relies on ad hoc military flights and a quarterly visit from a resupply ship that has to dodge Chinese vessels to dock. “We’ve become used to the sight of big Chinese ships around Pagasa,” said Nelly Dalabajan, a 28-year-old nurse who went to Pagasa in February for a four-month rotation. “Seeing 30 ships and boats at one time is normal. We’re worried about the Chinese driving us out.” Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/13/asia-pacific/filipinos-on-south-china-sea-isle-are-witness-to-chinese-island-activities-feel-threatened-by-increasing-aggression/#.VaXKPrePqYV

China aggressively building islands on reefs claimed by Philippines

China is reportedly proceeding with the construction of artificial islands on at least two reefs, which are claimed by the Philippines, despite Beijing promising to end some work soon. Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan Islands, which falls under Philippine’s control, said that he saw Chinese land reclamation activity going on in ‘full swing,’ with many dredgers and huge cranes visible near Subi Reef, reports The Guardian. He noted that it was ‘full-blast, massive and incredible’ construction and added that it would take months before the Chinese completed the work. In the middle part of the artificial island, a three kilometre landfill is taking the shape of a runway, Bito-onon said.     Read more: http://www.financialexpress.com/article/industry/china-aggressively-building-islands-on-reefs-claimed-by-philippines/90894/

China’s Terraforming In The Spratlys: A Game Changer In South China Sea? – Analysis

The phrase ‘game changer’ is often overused in international affairs. However, China’s terraforming in the Spratlys—transforming submerged or semi-submerged features and rocks into artificial islands—may well prove to be a genuine game changer in the long-running and increasingly contentious dispute. Since mid-2013, China has been undertaking large-scale reclamation work on seven features under its control in the disputed Spratly Islands: Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef South, Cuarteron Reef, Hughes Reef, Gaven Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef. Extensive infrastructure is being constructed on the reclaimed features, including harbours, radar and surveillance systems, multi-storey buildings and airstrips. Once completed, these artificial islands will enable China’s navy, coast guard and air force to maintain a permanent presence in the Spratlys and strengthen Beijing’s ability to enforce its territorial and jurisdictional claims within the so-called ‘nine-dash line’ that covers approximately 80 per cent of the South China Sea. Beijing has fiercely defended its reclamation activities on the grounds that it is acting within its sovereign rights, providing public goods and merely ‘catching up’ with the other claimants. However, the strategic implications of China’s terraforming has aroused considerable concern across the Asia-Pacific region. Ultimately China’s man-made islands are likely to fuel tensions with the other claimants, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, exacerbate the emerging strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing in Southeast Asia, and further call into question the South China Sea conflict management process between ASEAN and China.   Read more: http://www.eurasiareview.com/26062015-chinas-terraforming-in-the-spratlys-a-game-changer-in-south-china-sea-analysis/

China annihilates ancient coral ecosystems in its island-building: scientists

HONG KONG – Concern is mounting among some scientists that China’s reclamation work in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea has done severe harm to one of the most important coral reef systems in Southeast Asia. China’s use of dredged sand and coral to build artificial islands on seven reefs had also damaged reef systems beyond the outposts, meaning the affected area could be greater than first thought, several scientists who have studied satellite images of the Spratlys told reporters. Those concerns contrast with repeated official Chinese statements that Beijing is committed to protecting reefs and the broader marine environment in the South China Sea in keeping with its obligations under United Nations conventions. John McManus, a prominent University of Miami marine biologist who has worked with Philippine scientists to research the South China Sea, told fellow experts this month that China’s reclamation “constitutes the most rapid rate of permanent loss of coral reef area in human history.” Beyond the outposts, a wider area of reef had been destroyed by the dredging of sand from lagoons for use on the new islands and the dredging of shipping channels to access them, he wrote in an online oceanographic forum operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency.   Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/26/asia-pacific/science-health-asia-pacific/china-annihilates-ancient-coral-ecosystems-island-building-scientists/#.VY9HF-ePqYW