China is enforcing new limits on fishing in the South China Sea, despite protests from countries with fishing operations in the disputed waterway.
The Chinese government said it began a new fishing moratorium last month to protect fishing stocks. The moratorium lasts for three months, 30 days longer than in previous years. It also covers more fishing operations than previous moratoriums.
Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim control over waters within the area covered by the moratorium. Some fishing boat operators in those countries are defying the moratorium.
The Vietnamese government criticized the moratorium, questioning its legality.
The Philippines government has been working with China to resolve trade disputes and has not commented on the new fishing moratorium.
Taiwan’s government gives awards to fishing boat operators who set their own fishing limits. The government said it would assist fishing operators affected by the new Chinese fishing rules.
Taiwanese boats are known to follow blue-fish tuna in the South China Sea.
Chiu Chui-cheng is an official with the Taiwan government’s Mainland Affairs Council. He said Taiwan officials are ready to order rescue missions “to protect the safety of fishing crews and their vessels.”
“So we ask that our Taiwanese friends in the fishing industry relax,” he said.
China has enforced previous South China Sea fishing moratoriums by arresting fishing boat operators. But analysts said many fishing operators know the best areas to fish to avoid drawing attention of Chinese officials.
Murray Hiebert is an area expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said China is likely to use different enforcement methods against violators of its fishing moratorium.
They include taking control of fishing boats, arresting boat operators or sinking boats whose operators do not follow orders from Chinese authorities
Hiebert said, “Some Vietnamese fishing boats will continue going out to fish and risk harassment or arrests. Others are likely to hang back to avoid trouble.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised China for working to limit North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But he said the United States would not accept a Chinese military buildup on islands in the South China Sea.
Mattis made the comments while attending a recent meeting in Singapore.
Chinese Foreign Minister official Hua Chunying responded to Mattis by saying China will continue to “safeguard” its claims to the South China Sea.
But Hua said China remains ready to “peacefully” resolve disputes to uphold the “peace and stability of the South China Sea.”
Ralph Jennings reported on this story for VOA News. Bruce Alpert adapted the story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
moratorium - n. a time when a particular activity is not allowed
stock - n. supply of something that is available for use
defy - v. to refuse to obey something
blue-fish tuna - n. a large fish that lives in the ocean and is eaten as food
relax - v. to become or to cause someone to become less tense, tight, or stiff
harassment - n. to annoy or bother someone in a constant or repeated way
resolve - v. to find a solution to a problem or issue