Back in November, Hainan Province issued new maritime regulations, including an article stating that “foreigners or foreign fishing ships entering sea areas administered by Hainan and engaged in fishery production or fishery resource surveys should receive approval from relevant departments of the State Council.” As many, including “Naval Diplomat” James Holmes, pointed out, this provision would apply to over half of the South China Sea. However, experts wondered if China would be willing or able to enforce the regulation. M Taylor Fravel, writing for The Diplomat, noted that the new regulations had no information on how the provision would be enforced. “The sheer size of the waters nominally under Hainan’s administration indicates that actual implementation of these new rules would be a daunting operational task,” Fravel wrote.
Now, the question of whether these rules are being enforced seems to have been answered. Reuters reports that Hainan Party Secretary Luo Baoming said that authorities based on Sansha city have been regularly confronting unauthorized foreign fishing vessels. It’s apparently quite a common occurrence: “There’s something like this happening if not every day then at least once a week,” Luo said.