Fish­ing rules are ‘nor­mal prac­tice’

For­eign ves­sels need per­mis­sion to en­ter Hainan waters since Jan 1

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By LI XIAOKUN and ZHANG YAN

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.

The re­ports de­scribed the reg­u­la­tion as akin to Bei­jing’s late Novem­ber an­nounce­ment of its Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone, which re­quires for­eign planes to no­tify the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of flights through the zone. The area cov­ers China’s Diaoyu Is­lands.

The Philip­pines’ Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs said on Wed­nes­day that Manila is check­ing the in­for­ma­tion.

“We are ver­i­fy­ing the news with our em­bassies in Bei­jing and Hanoi,” said For­eign Af­fairs spokesman Raul Her­nan­dez.

Peter Paul Galvez, a Philip­pine de­fense depart­ment spokesman, told Reuters that Manila was ready to en­force fish­ing rules in the coun­try’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone, which in­clude reg­u­la­tions on the type of fish that can be caught.

Chen Qinghong , a re­searcher on Philip­pine stud­ies with the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said, “the reg­u­la­tion is just a step for Hainan to com­plete lo­cal fish­eries reg­u­la­tions and stan­dard­ize law en­force­ment”.

“It should not be in­ter­preted as Bei­jing adopt­ing a tougher stance in push­ing for­ward ter­ri­to­rial claims. In my opin­ion, it has been sen­sa­tion­al­ized by me­dia.”

Wang Han­ling, an ex­pert on mar­itime law with the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the new rule tar­gets se­vere in­fringe­ment by for­eign fish­ing ves­sels.

He said the new rule was also based on China’s in­creas­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­tect its mar­itime in­ter­ests.

“It is not tar­get­ing cer­tain coun­tries. Due to var­i­ous rea­sons, China has not been strict in mar­itime ad­min­is­tra­tion. Now we are mak­ing more ef­forts, not just in the South China Sea, but also in other di­rec­tions such as the Yel­low Sea and the East China Sea.”

De­spite the new rule, Bei­jing will likely seek to avoid in­creas­ing fric­tions by en­forc­ing them too zeal­ously, City Univer­sity of Hong Kong China pol­i­tics ex­pert Joseph Cheng told the AP.

China’s fish­eries law al­lows con­fis­ca­tion of catches and fish­ing equip­ment as well as fines of up to 500,000 yuan ($83,000) for vi­o­la­tors. Those who com­mit crimes will be in­ves­ti­gated for crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity. Con­tact the writ­ers at lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhangyan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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