China has no right to ban fishing in Vietnamese waters: fisheries society

By Phan Anh

Mon, 5/4/2020 | 20:22 (GMT+7)

The Vietnam Fisheries Society expressed vehement opposition Monday to China’s announcement of an East Sea "fishing ban" starting May 1.

Vietnamese fishing boats are anchored off Vietnam's south central coast in Binh Thuan Province, April 29, 2019. Photo by Le Dang.

In a document sent to several Vietnamese governmental entities, including the Government Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the society said that China’s "fishing ban" on areas of the East Sea, including parts of the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, is a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and Vietnamese sea areas.

It was also a violation of Vietnam’s legal rights and interests, not to mention international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and relevant international legal documents, the document said.

The society said it "vehemently opposes China’s unreasonable actions. [The fishing ban] has no legal value over sea areas under Vietnam’s sovereignty. Vietnamese fisherpeople have the right to fish in sea areas under Vietnam’s sovereignty."

It requested Vietnamese authorities to strongly oppose and take due measures to stop and prevent China’s "unreasonable actions."

The East Sea is internationally known as the South China Sea.

On April 30, the Hainan Provincial Department of Agriculture announced that China’s annual "fishing ban" on the South China Sea has begun on May 1 and would last until August 16, the Xinhua reported.

The ban would apply to certain sea areas at the South China Sea that encompass parts of the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam’s Paracel Islands.

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No fishing activities are allowed in sea areas under China’s sovereignty within the time period, except in certain cases, according to the Hainan department. During the period, China would perform safety checks for fishing equipment and vessels, as well as instructing its fisherpeople of relevant policies and skills, it said.

Vietnam has consistently condemned and rejected the issue of such bans by China, while the latter has claimed that the bans seek to promote sustainable fisheries development and improve marine ecology.

China has also been ramping up its aggressive behavior in the East Sea of late, including announcing the establishment of what it calls the "Xisha District" and "Nansha District" in so-called "Sansha City" on April 18 to manage Vietnam's Paracel and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and surrounding waters.

On April 14, Chinese survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 was spotted around 158 km off Vietnam's coast, inside Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It then followed exploration vessel West Capella belonging to Malaysian state oil company Petronas after entering Malaysia's EEZ.

Vietnam and several other countries, including the Philippines, the U.S., Australia and Japan, have either denounced or voiced dismay at China’s actions.

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