Hainan province’s demand that foreign fishing vessels entering its waters seek China’s approval is a normal practice, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, refuting reports that it reflects Beijing’s tougher stance on territorial disputes.
“The goal is to strengthen the security of fisheries resources and to reasonably utilize and exploit them,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference when asked about the rules.
“It is absolutely a normal routine practice” for an ocean state, she added.
The regulation, approved by the provincial legislature of Hainan on Nov 29, took effect on Jan 1.
It requires foreign fishing boats and foreigners to seek permission from relevant departments under the State Council to fish or carry out surveys on fisheries resources within waters administered by the southernmost island province.
Hainan, which administers 2 million square km of water, said the new rule is to protect local fisheries resources.
The news came into focus after foreign media highlighted it on Wednesday.