BFAR raises alarm over illegal Chinese militia fishing in WPS


The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Tuesday expressed “serious” concerns over the continuous presence of foreign vessels, such as Chinese maritime militia vessels, fishing in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The BFAR, an attached bureau of the Department of Agriculture (DA), pointed out that these foreign fishing activities in WPS are “illegal, unreported and unregulated” (IUU).

“These foreign vessels have no clearance from the Philippine government or any existing fisheries cooperation agreements with the country that allow them to conduct any fishing operations,” BFAR said in a news statement issued on Tuesday.

“Their fishing activities, therefore, are considered Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated [IUU] fishing within the Philippine territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ],” it added.

The DA-BFAR said it is “closely coordinating” with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) regarding the continuous presence of foreign vessels in WPS.

Furthermore, the bureau threw its support behind the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) plans to file new diplomatic protests against the continuous presence and activities of these foreign vessels.

“Following the directive of the NTF-WPS, the DA-BFAR maintains the deployment of its law enforcement vessels in the WPS,” DA-BFAR said.

“With the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between DA-BFAR and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group [PNP-MG], the conduct of joint seaborne patrol in Philippine seas, including the WPS, will be further intensified with members of the latter to serve as ship riders on DA-BFAR vessels,” it added.

The DA-BFAR said its fisheries monitoring center (FMC) is conducting 24/7 operations to monitor fishing activities in the WPS.

“The FMC monitors and tracks activities of Philippine flagged commercial fishing vessels including foreign vessels equipped with Automatic Identification System [AIS], and detects fishing boats that employ lights to attract fish at night using the satellite-based tool, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suites [VIIRS]. Further, starting next week, Synthetic Aperture Radar [SAR] images will also be used to reinforce monitoring and analysis of IUU fishing activities in the WPS,” it added.

Earlier this month, the DA-BFAR signed a agreement with PNP-MG that allowed PNP personnel the “right to embark” on any DA-BFAR available vessel as “ship rider” to conduct joint seaborne patrol.

Late last month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. instructed the DFA to file three diplomatic protests over the continued intrusion and activities of Chinese vessels in WPS.

Image courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard via AP

Read full article on BusinessMirror

Leave a Reply