Floating barriers at Bajo de Masinloc Shoal may affect the safety, livelihood of Filipino fisherfolks—BFAR

Floating barriers at Bajo de Masinloc Shoal may affect the safety, livelihood of Filipino fisherfolks—BFAR

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) condemned the alleged placement of floating barriers by the Chinese Coast Guard at Bajo de Masinloc Shoal.

According to the agency, this poses a danger to the lives of fisherfolks.

The BFAR stated the illegal structures allegedly placed there by the Chinese Coast Guard in the southern part of Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.

According to Spokesperson Nazario Briguera, BFAR strongly condemns the actions of the Chinese Coast Guard as they endanger the small-scale fishermen who ply their trade in the area.

Briguera pointed out that these floating barriers could potentially get entangled in the propellers and engines of fishing boats.

Furthermore, they will hinder the livelihood of small fisherfolks.

‘‘The mere fact that they seem to be taking away our rights there, by placing barriers is not good, and we are in solidarity with other instrumentalities of the government, other government agencies, and even in the Senate. They have issued a statement condemning this because our territory should benefit our fishermen,’’ BFAR Spokesperson Nazario Briguera said.

The official also expressed concern that Bajo de Masinloc might not be the only place where the Chinese Coast Guard places such illegal structures.

‘‘We hope that any foreign country present there will be responsible and respect our sovereignty and the environment because it’s not just about the Philippines. There is interconnectedness in the marine environment, and if they damage the West Philippine Sea, they may also be affected,’’ Briguera stated.

BFAR advises the fishermen in the area to exercise caution when venturing into Bajo de Masinloc.

Meanwhile, the fishermen’s group TUGON Kabuhayan is calling on the Philippine government to take immediate action on the floating barriers placed by China.

Asis Perez, a former BFAR chief and convenor of the group, stated that this poses a danger to nearly 100 fisherfolks in the area.

Perez further emphasized that this could also affect the fish supply in the nearby areas of Zambales.

He supports the idea of the Philippine Coast Guard removing or dismantling the floating barriers.

In a media interview, PCG Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Jay Tarriela, claimed that China has placed a 300-meter-long floating barrier.

The PCG and BFAR discovered this during a routine maritime patrol on September 22 of this year while aboard the BRP Datu Bankaw.

Tarriela also mentioned that 3 CCG’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats and a Chinese Maritime Militia service boat were inside the floating barrier when their personnel arrived.

He stated that the CCG often does this when they see a large group of Filipino fishermen in the area.

Tarriela stated that they would file a case against the Chinese Coast Guard for their illegal activities at Bajo de Masinloc.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maw Ning, dismissed the allegations as false and groundless.

“We advise the Philippine authorities not to utilize fabricated information to stage a political farce,’’ Maw Ning stated.

On the other hand, Wang Wenbin, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, asserted that Bajo Masinloc, which is known as Hwang-yan Island in China, is an inherent part of the country’s territory, and accused BFAR vessel of illegally intruding into the waters near Huangyan Island without their permission.

Huangyan Island is an inherent part of China’s territory, and China has indisputable sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters.

On September 22, a Philippine vessel from the BFAR illegally intruded into the waters near Huangyan Island without China’s permission and attempted to ram the lagoon of the Island.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that the Philippine government may remove the floating barrier if it is within the exclusive economic zone.


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