The Chinese government has implemented fishing bans since 1999 in the
South China Sea in an effort to protect fish stocks and marine life
from over-exploitation, despite other nations contesting sovereignty
over the region.
The Philippines is one of several states that object to China’s
unilateral moratorium. Manila claims the fishing ban extends far beyond
China’s maritime entitlements, noting that Beijing’s nine-dash-line –
its claim to around 90% of the South China Sea – has been rejected by an
international tribunal in The Hague.
Earlier this year, tensions
between the two heightened as Manila claimed Chinese fishing flotillas
had repeatedly swarmed islands and waterways within the country’s
200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. On May 9, the Philippines
government accused China of violating its own fishing ban, as nearly 300
militia vessels moored near a reef in the Philippines-claimed
municipality of Kalayaan.
The disputed waters, as well as the
islands and reefs within it, are hotly contested by China, the
Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Brunei.