Statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs on the new Hainan fisheries law

Statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs:
On the new Hainan fisheries law

[January 10, 2014]

We have requested China to immediately clarify the new fisheries law issued by the Hainan Provincial People’s Congress.

We are gravely concerned by this new regulation that would require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese regional authorities before fishing or surveying in a large portion of the South China Sea.

This development escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea, and threatens the peace and stability of the region. This new law reinforces China’s expansive claim under the 9-dash line. It is a gross violation of international law, particularly UNCLOS, and is contrary to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The Philippines is not the only country adversely affected by these regulations. These regulations seriously violate the freedom of navigation and the right to fish of all states in the high seas, as provided for under UNCLOS. Under customary international law, no state can subject the high seas to its sovereignty.