Statement: On the Philippines’ Protest of 17 May 2021 against China’s Moratorium on Fishing in the South China Sea

Pasay City, 18 May 2021 -- The Philippines does not recognize China's unilateral imposition of a fishing moratorium in the South China Sea for the period 01 May to 16 August 2021. As announced by China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the ban covers "waters north of 12 degrees north latitude" in the South China Sea. These waters include areas over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction. 

According to Paragraph 716 of the Award of the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on 12 July 2016, China, by promulgating its moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea, "without exception for areas of the South China Sea falling within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and without limiting the moratorium to Chinese flagged vessels, breached Article 56 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines' sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone." The 2016 Arbitral Award also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen. 

China's annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China's legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law. China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea. 

The Philippines strongly urges China to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law. END