Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

A Look at What Is Ahead Now That Brexit Talks Have Started

June 19, 2017

BRUSSELS — The talks on Britain’s exit from the European Union finally started Monday when EU negotiator Michel Barnier said “Welcome David” to his counterpart, David Davis, and led him toward a huge oval table at the European Commission headquarters.

As the negotiations kick off, here’s a look at some of the major issues the sides face.

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DIVORCE FIRST

They will first have to unravel the British from the EU, which will be challenging to say the least. That will involve everything from deciding what waters each side can fish in to how nuclear agreements should be renegotiated. Only when there is “sufficient progress” does the EU want to look at creating a new relationship with Britain on things like trade and migration. Britain hopes the two themes — divorce terms and future relationship — can be discussed in parallel.

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WHAT DIVORCE ISSUES GET TACKLED FIRST?

While Britain has struggled to agree on and present a coherent list of demands, the 27 EU nations have had one message all along — in the words of Barnier on Monday: “We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit.” It means clarifying the fate of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa, how to manage the border between Ireland and the U.K., and how much Britain will pay.

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MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

The EU says Britain can’t leave without settling its bill, paying up for all its commitments that are still ongoing, including projects that might reach into the next decade, as well as the U.K.’s share of EU staff pensions. EU officials have put the figure at around 50 billion euros ($63 billion) while other estimates by think tanks and in the media go as high as twice that amount. As in any divorce, count on both sides to be picky in splitting the goods and dues.

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WHAT ARE THE RED LINES?

The EU says it will not compromise on its core “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, capital, services and workers. Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other EU countries into Britain. May says Britain will leave the EU’s single market in goods and services and its tariff-free customs union, but nonetheless, somehow, wants “frictionless” free trade.

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DEAL OR NO DEAL?

Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019. EU nations and the European Parliament will have to approve any future deal and that can take months. EU officials have therefore put the realistic deadline at October — and at the latest November — of 2018. If no deal is struck by then, the sides may have to create a transitional deal, possibly prolonging some of the current relationship.

If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, that would create huge uncertainties for citizens and businesses as well as issues like global security. How bad that would be in reality is anyone’s guess.

Iran fisherman shot and killed by Saudi coast guard

June 18, 2017

Saudi officials accused the fisherman of entering Saudi waters while Iranian officials said high waves sent his boat off course. The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the two nations.

Bildergalerie Iran Kaviar (Getty Images/AFP)

Iranian authorities on Saturday were still trying to determine the facts surrounding the incident which happened on Friday. It was not clear if the fishing boats had strayed into Saudi waters.

“Even if the boats had entered Saudi waters, the coastguards were not authorised to open fire,” Majid Aghababaie, head of border affairs at Iran’s interior minstry said.

“Two fishing boats were in the Persian Gulf and strayed due to high waves. The Saudi coastguards say the boats entered Saudi waters and killed one of the fishermen,” Aghababaie said. One of the boats is still missing.

“We are pursuing this matter to determine if the Iranian boats had crossed the Saudi border or not, but the action of the Saudis does not comply with humanitarian and navigational principles,” the Iranian minister said.

There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia.

Rising tensions

The incident comes amid rising tensions between the two Middle East nations.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in the attacks earlier this month on the parliament building and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran in which 17 people were killed. The so-called “Islamic State” group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“Saudi Arabia is sponsoring terrorist groups in Iran,” Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said on Thursday.

Iran and Qatar

Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab nations, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last week over perceived ties to terrorist groups.

Iran’s relationship with Qatar was also listed as one of the reasons for dropping the diplomatic links.
Iran sent planeloads of food to Qatar in a humanitarian gesture .

Iran and Saudi Arabia also support opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in January 2016. 

kbd/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Some Countries Defy China’s Ban on South China Sea Fishing

June 14, 2017

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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.

Taiwanese fishing boats flying national flags prepare to leave for Taiping Island in 2016. Taiwan and China have disputing claims in the South China Sea.

Taiwanese fishing boats flying national flags prepare to leave for Taiping Island in 2016. Taiwan and China have disputing claims in the South China Sea.

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.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page.

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/some-countries-defy-china-ban-on-south-china-sea-fishing/3897179.html

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FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.

Time To Take Action To Defend The Philippines

June 13, 2017
OPINION
/ 12:22 AM June 13, 2017

I meant to write on Rizal and President Duterte, but taking part in the Defend Democracy Summit at the UP School of Economics on Monday brought me face to face with the human toll of the Duterte administration’s irresolution in defending the West Philippine Sea. We must make time to understand the Duterte era from a historical perspective; on Thursday, the Inquirer and the De La Salle University seek to do just that, with a historians’ forum on Philippine independence and the rise of China. But today—today I want to talk about Norma and Ping and the fishermen in Zambales they represent.

Let me belabor the obvious: The Defend Democracy Summit was called out of the sense that democracy in the Philippines today needs to be defended. The organizers defined four areas that needed defending: national sovereignty, human rights, democratic institutions, truth.

Assigned to the first workshop, I had the chance to listen to Prof. Jay Batongbacal, one of the world’s leading experts on the South China Sea disputes. (I added a few words on the Chinese view, from confusion in the 1930s about the location of the Spratlys to allegations in the English-language Chinese press of Philippine aggression in 2016.) In the discussion that followed, the diversity of the perspectives represented was striking: women, businessmen, students, environmentalists, political activists, fisherfolk. I was especially impressed by the intensity of the intervention of the likes of Norma and Ping, who represented fishermen from Zambales whose lives and livelihood are increasingly at risk.

 

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Not for lack of trying: The fishermen are organized, conduct roundtables in their communities, connect to local and national reporters. But since the start of the Duterte administration, they have found themselves at the mercy of the Chinese—and the authorities do not seem to be of any help. One of the representatives spoke of a recent incident where Chinese fishermen were arrested while poaching in internal waters, and a Chinese Embassy official appeared to tell police officers: “Philippine law does not apply to them (the poachers).” (I will try to get to the bottom of this incident.) He also vigorously rejected media reports that Filipino fishermen can now fish inside Scarborough Shoal.

A group of Zambales fishermen has been conducting meetings and workshops among themselves. In their last workshop, they came up with a list of five demands, in Filipino, that illustrates the immediate effect of the government’s failure to protect their way of life.

The five demands they addressed to the Duterte administration include:

Remove China’s illegal structures and stop certain practices that only favor China.

Allow fishermen to fish and to seek cover in Scarborough Shoal in times of typhoons and calamities.

Provide livelihood for fishermen’s families affected (by Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal since 2012).

Avoid classifying Scarborough as a marine sanctuary because in the end this will only become a fishing area for China.

Stop the illegal quarrying in Zambales used for the reclamation (of Chinese-occupied reefs) and the building of Chinese military structures, in the West Philippine Sea.

Another representative warned: “In five years, maybe in two years, Zambales will be out”—meaning out of fish stock, because of aggressive Chinese fishing.

Yesterday, June 12, was the 90th birthday of an extraordinary teacher who is, amazingly, still teaching. Onofre Pagsanghan, better known to generations of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School, and to thousands of students and parents who have heard his lectures in different schools across the country, as Mr. Pagsi, was—is—a spellbinding speaker. His gift is equal parts heart and craft; a lifetime of integrity and excellence becomes visible through his lectures, even his casual remarks.

What a privilege it was to study under him.

On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104727/remove-chinas-illegal-structures#ixzz4js4z0UQu
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FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.

Winning against China

June 13, 2017

This is the final column based on Justice Antonio Carpio’s e-book The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea. I summarize here Justice Carpio’s interpretation of the decision of the arbitral tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration that upheld the Philippine positions on most issues. I also share Justice Carpio’s suggestions on how the Arbitral Award can be enforced.

On the Scarborough Shoal, the Tribunal ruled that the Shoal is a high-tide elevation entitled to a 12-nautical mile territorial sea but not to a 200-NM exclusive economic zone since obviously it is not capable of human habitation. The territorial sea of Scarborough Shoal, which includes the lagoon, is however a traditional fishing ground of Filipino, Chinese, and Vietnamese fishermen. In any case, China cannot prevent Filipino fishermen from fishing in the territorial sea of Scarborough Shoal.

China claims the Scarborough Shoal because the shoal was allegedly the observation point in the South China Sea where Guo Shoujing erected in 1279 CE an astronomical observatory. This claim is belied by the fact that China had already identified Xisha (the Paracels) as the observation point when China presented its argument against Vietnam in 1980. As clearly pointed out by Carpio: “The biggest rock on Scarborough Shoal is just 1.2 meters above water at high tide, and not more than six to 10 people can stand on it.  It is physically impossible to erect, or operate, the massive astronomical observatories of Guo Shoujing on the tiny rocks of Scarborough.”

As regard the environment, the arbitral tribunal ruled that China violated its obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to “protect and preserve the marine environment” when China: (a) Dredged and built islands on seven reefs;  (b)Failed to prevent its fishermen from harvesting endangered species like sea turtles, corals, and giant clams in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal.

Other issues raised on which the arbitral tribunal has ruled are:

China violated the exclusive right of the Philippines to its EEZ when China: (a) Interfered with fishing activities of Filipino fishermen within Philippine EEZ, including imposing a fishing moratorium within Philippine EEZ; (b) Interfered with petroleum activities of Philippine-commissioned vessels within Philippine EEZ; (c) Failed to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing within Philippine EEZ; and (d) Constructed an artificial island and structures on an LTE (Mischief Reef) within Philippine EEZ.

China also violated its obligation not to aggravate the dispute during the arbitration when China: (a) Dredged the reefs, reclaimed and built the islands while the proceedings were ongoing, and; Destroyed the evidence of the natural condition of the geologic features at issue when China dredged and reclaimed them while the proceedings were ongoing.

Finally,  China violated its obligation to observe maritime safety when Chinese coast guard vessels crossed the path of Philippine vessels at high speed.

In conclusion, Justice Carpio suggests ways forward in the enforcement of the arbitral award, namely: (a) Enforcement of the award by the world’s naval powers with respect to freedom of navigation and overflight for military vessels and aircraft; and, (b)  Enforcement of the award by the Philippines with respect to its exclusive right to exploit the resources of its EEZ in the South China Sea.

On the first enforcement method, Justice Carpio observed that naval powers such as the United States, France and Great Britain can enforce the award by sailing and flying, and conducting military activities, in the high seas and EEZs of the South China Sea.

On the second method of enforcement, the Philippines can do several things, such as suing in a jurisdiction that ratified UNCLOS, move before the International Seabed Authority for the suspension of China’s exploration permits in the area, move before the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for the suspension of China’s application for an ECS in the East China Sea, can negotiate its maritime boundaries with Malaysia (EEZ and ECS) and Vietnam (ECS), applying the Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ and that the nine-dashed line has no legal effect on maritime entitlements, can delineate its ECS from Luzon and file its claim with the CLCS, there being no legal impediment from the nine-dashed line, and the Philippine navy and coast guard vessels and aircraft can continue to patrol  Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.

As a final word, Justice Carpio emphasized that the leaders of our nation must exercise utmost deliberation, consistency, and perseverance in seeking ways to enforce what the arbitral tribunal has finally awarded to the Philippines as its own EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.  Silence or inaction is no way to go as this can be interpreted as a state’s acceptance of a factual or legal situation.

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Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

It is fitting to end this series this week, when we celebrate Independence Day of the Philippines. There can be no real independence without securing our sovereignty.  President Duterte’s approach to foreign policy, while laudable for its independence, has been reckless on its defense of national territory. Thankfully, we have Justice Antonio Carpio to remind our leaders of what needs to be done, I reiterate what I said at the beginning of this series, Justice Tony is a hero, a defender of the country’s territory and of our Constitution. Let’s be thankful for that.

Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina Twitter: tonylavs

http://thestandard.com.ph/opinion/columns/eagle-eyes-by-tony-la-vina/239177/winning-against-china.html

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.

Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines defy China fishing moratorium — Sovereignty and China’s legal rights at issue

June 10, 2017

Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines are defying a Chinese imposed fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, which includes areas embroiled in territorial disputes, VOA News reported.

The countries object to the three-month ban, which was imposed by China on May 1 without consulting them.

Chinese maritime security agencies patrol the waters and have previously arrested unlicensed vessels. However, since a United Nations tribunal declined to uphold China’s territorial claims for much of the sea last year, the legality of the country’s actions isn’t certain.

https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/06/09/vietnam-taiwan-and-the-philippines-defy-china-fishing-moratorium/

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VOA

Countries Defy China’s Extra-Strict Fishing Moratorium in South China Sea

June 09, 2017 2:36 AM
By Ralph Jennings
FILE - Fishing boats are docked in Tho Quang port, Danang, Vietnam, March 26, 2016. Fishermen from around the South China Sea tell stories of contending with bandits and coast guards.

FILE – Fishing boats are docked in Tho Quang port, Danang, Vietnam, March 26, 2016. Fishermen from around the South China Sea tell stories of contending with bandits and coast guards.

China’s toughest rivals in a maritime sovereignty dispute are defying an extra-strict fishing moratorium declared by Beijing this year in the contested South China Sea, putting their own trawling fleets at risk of arrest.Beijing declared the moratorium on its own from May 1 for three months, 30 days longer than in previous years and restricting more types of fishing operations. It covers the South China Sea above the 12th parallel north of the equator. Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines claim waters inside the moratorium zone but did not agree with China to pause fishing.

Vietnam has condemned the moratorium while the Philippines, which held upbeat talks with China on their maritime disputes last month, has kept quiet, analysts believe, to avoid legitimizing the ban. Taiwan gives awards to fishing boat operators who impose their own moratorium and will help anyone caught by China.

In this image taken and made available by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (center right) reviews nautical charts aboard a Taiwan Navy ship before it sets out to patrol in the South China Sea.

In this image taken and made available by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (center right) reviews nautical charts aboard a Taiwan Navy ship before it sets out to patrol in the South China Sea.

“Our fisheries agency in the past has sought fishing parties to warn them about safety matters involved with mainland China’s moratorium,” Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for the Taiwan government’s Mainland Affairs Council said. Taiwanese boats are known for following blue-fish tuna in the South China Sea.

“When operators encounter life safety or boat safety matter at sea, our government will immediately react and enact rescue measures to protect the safety of fishing crews and their vessels,” Chiu said. “So we ask that our Taiwanese friends in the fishing industry relax.”

The moratorium, after a world court tribunal ruled last year against Beijing’s claims much of the sea, casts new disdain on China around Asia while reminding other countries of the strength of Chinese de facto control.

“It’s no use protesting (the moratorium), because you’re acknowledging that they’re imposing the ban, but on the ground fishermen know where to avoid,” said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, a fellow with the ISEAS Yusof Ihsak Institute in Singapore.

Earlier fishing curbs

Beijing has enforced previous seasonal South China Sea fishing curbs, the first of which it declared in 1995, by arresting foreign fishing boats. After so many years, veteran boat operators know where they can safely go, analysts say.

China will check boats that it finds illegal and arrest any without a license, vessel name or port of registration, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council says.

But neither silence nor protests imply acceptance of a single country’s rule over the high seas, said Douglas Guilfoyle, associate international law professor at Monash University in Australia. High seas refers to waters outside the exclusive economic zones extending from the shores of coastal states.

“You are not obliged to contest claims without legal foundation,” Guilfoyle said. “International law requires not just that a state assert a new rule, but that other states accept it, and acceptance by acquiescence or silence isn’t a usual method of rule-making in international law. You normally need positive assent.”

South China Sea Territorial Claims

South China Sea Territorial Claims

China’s claims

China claims most of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea, citing historic records as a basis. It has alarmed the other claimants by letting coast guard vessels operate in disputed waters and by building artificial islands, some for military deployments.

The fishing moratorium violates a July world arbitration court ruling in The Hague against the legal basis for China’s claim over more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, analysts say.

China has gone easy on Philippine fishing boats over the past year as the two governments try to settle their dispute. Negotiators met last month for what the Philippine side described as a productive first meeting, according to media reports from Manila.

But Beijing routinely keeps Filipinos out of Scarborough Shoal, a prime fishing spot in Manila’s west coast exclusive economic zone, and boat operators know they can’t access it.

Vietnam, which despite a year of stepped-up dialogue with Beijing, still resents China over historical sovereignty disputes, said in March it would send ships to protect its fishing vessels from action taken under the moratorium.

The fishing boats will probably be detained, arrested or sunk as China sends its coast guard and maritime police, said Murray Hiebert, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

“Some Vietnamese fishing boats will continue going out to fish and risk harassment or arrest,” Hiebert said. “Others are likely to hang back to avoid trouble.”

China would arrest Vietnamese boats anyway, said Zhang Hongzhou, research fellow with the China Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“This is not only during the moratorium,” Zhang said. “During the fishing season as well, if they trespass into the Chinese-controlled areas, the Chinese coast guard and other law enforcement vessels will take action against them.”

Countries dissatisfied with arrests can seek international arbitration at least to get a boat released, Guilfoyle said.

The sea yields 16.6 million tons of fish every year and the fishing industry employs about 3.7 million people, a National Geographic report said last year, but fish stocks are declining. Claimant countries also prize the sea for its marine shipping lanes and reserves of gas and oil.

https://www.voanews.com/a/countries-defy-chinas-extra-strict-fishing-moratorium-in-south-china-sea/3893413.html

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

United Nations Continues To Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

June 10, 2017
12:04 AM June 07, 2017

We are about to celebrate the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Food and Agriculture Organization Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the world’s first binding international treaty aimed at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

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This illegal modality accounts for around one-sixth of all fish caught in the oceans, and constitutes a great public danger as it undermines global efforts to make sure that fish—the world’s most produced, consumed and traded animal protein—are a sustainable resource for global nutrition and food security, as well as for millions of jobs.

The PSMA, which currently has 46 parties including the European Union, marks a sea change both in its legal form and in its practical potential. Under its protocol, foreign fishing vessels must show all required operating licenses, their activity logs, and submit to inspections of their catch. Port authorities are obliged to deny services to vessels in violation of the rules and to report them to other countries, making it harder for illegal operators to offload and sell the fish they catch elsewhere.

The FAO, which brokered the treaty, is also delivering other tools to put an end to IUU fishing. It has a new initiative to improve flag-state compliance, a new set of voluntary guidelines on catch documentation schemes—a passport of sorts without which fish can lose access to markets—and is in the process on creating a transparent and comprehensive global record of fishing vessels. All of these instruments complement the PSMA.

It is noteworthy that the new treaty was in fact enhanced and expanded, not watered down, in its journey from draft text to binding law. That clearly shows how seriously the international community supports a powerful, viable and enduring instrument to end IUU fishing.

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Vietnam Coast Guard 8005 vessel allegedly hits a Vietnamese-flagged fishing boat, which had been caught by Indonesian authorities for alleged poaching in Indonesian waters. The boat sinks and Indonesian patrol personnel Gunawan Wibisono guarding it is held hostage by the Vietnamese authorities. (The Jakarta Post/Source) — May 22, 2017

I call upon all nations that have not yet joined the PSMA to become part of it.

As important as it is to make its remit universal, what is more important is making the new rules stick. Implementing the PSMA will require a host of actions, including streamlined cross-border real-time communications systems, national legislative reviews, and skilled inspectors capable of identifying actual fish both by species and likely age, as well as ascertaining whether the gear used to catch them is allowed.

The new rules’ ultimate strength will be determined by the weakest link, so all countries have a stake in making sure that no member lacks the technical capacity to deliver on treaty obligations.

The PSMA explicitly acknowledges that developing countries and small island-states may need assistance in carrying out the monitoring, control, surveillance and compliance tasks that the treaty requires, and all parties have pledged to provide that assistance.

I am confident that many countries will join the United States, Norway and Sweden, which have already confirmed their contribution to this global capacity-building program. Allow me to note that the FAO is already committing substantial resources of its own to this effort.

Ocean governance is evolving quickly, and the FAO has played a central role in steering capture fisheries toward sustainable management. With the PSMA, the international community has produced a powerful, viable and enduring instrument to serve as a basis for effectively combating illegal fishing.

José Graziano da Silva is director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104585/way-put-end-illegal-fishing#ixzz4jaXaYv00
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FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea

June 5, 2017

SINGAPORE — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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JOINT PATROLS IN SULU SEA TO TARGET ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS

Officials say joint patrols by three Southeast Asian countries in the Sulu Sea may be the start of a larger regional effort to keep Islamic militants at bay.

The patrols will be conducted by forces from Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, with sea operations beginning this month and land patrols starting at a later date.

The initiative in the Sulu Sea, an area bounded by the Malaysian state of Sabah and the southern Philippines, is a “collective agreement that is followed by the operational level,” Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said Sunday. It will feature joint command posts and exercises between the three countries’ ground forces.

Joint patrols are an attempt “to prevent and protect our border, to close the border so that militants don’t go to other areas,” Ryamizard said. “If the situation escalates and extends to other waters, we would like to request other countries to join.”

Ryamizard was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security conference in Singapore attended by defense ministers and experts from 39 countries.

The presence of Islamic militants has been felt the region. Philippine troops are struggling to end a bloody siege by 500 Islamic State group-aligned extremists in the southern city of Marawi, one of the boldest militant attacks in Southeast Asia in years.

Forty foreigners involved in the Marawi attack may have found a path through the Sulu Sea, said Ricardo David Jr., Undersecretary for Defense Policy at the Philippine Department of National Defense. “They have a back channels corridor in our country, probably in the area of Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea, that they can proceed to Mindanao and link with the terrorist units in the area,” he said.

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MATTIS SAYS U.S. STAYING THE COURSE ON POLICY TOWARD ASIA

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the Trump administration is aiming for continuity in its policies toward Asia, sticking broadly with the approach its predecessors have taken by emphasizing diplomacy and cooperation with allies.

In a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, Mattis sought to balance hopeful comments on China with sharp criticism of what he called Beijing’s disregard for international law by its “indisputable militarization” of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

“We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law,” he said. “We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo.”

Overall, Mattis’ speech struck a positive, hopeful tone for cooperation and peace in the Asia-Pacific region, where he and his predecessors have made it a priority to nurture and strengthen alliances and partnerships.

“While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” he said. “Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will pledge to work closely with China where we share common cause.”

On Friday, Mattis spoke to reporters aboard his plane about “reinforcing the international order” while seeking a “peaceful, prosperous and free Asia”— echoing traditional U.S. policy goals.

President Donald Trump raised doubts in Asia when he took office following a campaign in which he sharply criticized Japan and South Korea for not pulling their weight as treaty allies. So far, however, the administration has been more supportive.

China on Sunday responded by reasserting its claim to sovereignty over the Spratly island group in the South China Sea and denouncing Mattis’ comments as “irresponsible.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in comments posted on the ministry’s website that China was achieving success in reaching agreements and lowering tensions with other countries in the region.

Last month, China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to a draft framework on a code of conduct to reduce the possibility of conflicts between nations claiming territory in the South China Sea.

While China says almost the entire South China Sea belongs to it, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also exercise claims in the area.

___

Associated Press writers Annabelle Liang and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Related:

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Reuters
A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.

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Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved, Australian experts concede

May 30, 2017

‘In our lifetime and on our watch, substantial areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ecosystems are experiencing major long-term damage’

By Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent

The Independent Online

The Great Barrier Reef – a canary in the coal mine for global warming – can no longer be saved in its present form partly because of the “extraordinary rapidity” of climate change, experts have conceded.

Instead, action should be taken to maintain the World Heritage Site‘s ‘ecological function’ as its ecological health declines, they reportedly recommended.

Like coral across the world, the reef has been severely damaged by the warming of the oceans with up to 95 per cent of areas surveyed in 2016 found to have been bleached.

great-barrier-reef-bleaching.jpg
A scientist examines bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef near Orpheus Island (AFP)

Bleaching is not always fatal but a study last year found the “largest die-off of corals ever recorded” with about 67 per cent of shallow water coral found dead in a survey of a 700km stretch.

Now experts on a committee set up by the Australian government to improve the health of the reef have revealed that they believe the lesser target of maintaining its “ecological function” is more realistic.

In a recent communique, the expert panel said they were “united in their concern about the seriousness of the impacts facing the Reef and concluded that coral bleaching since early 2016 has changed the Reef fundamentally”.

“There is great concern about the future of the Reef, and the communities and businesses that depend on it, but hope still remains for maintaining ecological function over the coming decades,” it said.

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’ after latest coral bleaching data

“Members agreed that, in our lifetime and on our watch, substantial areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ecosystems are experiencing major long-term damage which may be irreversible unless action is taken now.

“The planet has changed in a way that science informs us is unprecedented in human history. While that in itself may be cause for action, the extraordinary rapidity of the change we now observe makes action even more urgent.”

It recommended that reducing greenhouse gas emissions “must be central to the response”.

“This needs to be coupled with increased efforts to improve the resilience of the coral and other ecosystems that form the Great Barrier Reef. The focus of efforts should be on managing the Reef to maintain the benefits that the Reef provides,” it added.

While the committee’s communique did not expressly give up hope that the reef could be saved in its current form, the Guardian reported that two experts on the committee, speaking anonymously, revealed they had recommended introducing the goal of maintaining “ecological function” at a recent meeting.

And the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority explained what that would mean.

“The concept of ‘maintaining ecological function’ refers to the balance of ecological processes necessary for the reef ecosystem as a whole to persist, but perhaps in a different form, noting the composition and structure may differ from what is currently seen today,” the authority said.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who sits on the expert panel, told the newspaper they were trying to manage reefs in a “rapidly changing world”.

“So managing to restore the reefs of the past – the way they were prior to the big insults of the 80s, 90s and 2000s … maybe we need to be looking at this in a different sense,” he said.

“What are the key ecological functions? Essentially, what roles do they play that are important to humans?”

The expert committee’s views could lead to the reef being declared a World Heritage Site “in danger”, a finding that the Australian government has resisted.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/great-barrier-reef-dying-coral-bleaching-global-warming-australia-climate-change-a7761351.html

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Xi Jinping’s War Threat To The Philippines: China Shows It Will Dominate the Philippines to Get Whatever It Wants

May 24, 2017

Opinion/Editorial

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

Did Chinese President Xi Jinping threaten President Duterte with war? That’s what Mr. Duterte himself said, in an extraordinary disclosure last Friday. In his recounting, he said he had raised the possibility of the Philippines drilling for oil in those parts of its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea that are contested by China. “I said, ‘Mr. Xi Jinping, I would insist that that is ours and I will drill oil there’.” He said Xi replied as follows: ‘We are friends. We do not want to quarrel with you…. We want to maintain the present warm relationship. But if you force the issue, we’ll go to war’.”

As we said: extraordinary. The following Monday, the country’s new chief diplomat, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, offered an “interpretation” of the exchange between Mr. Duterte and Xi at the recent summit in Beijing that did not directly run counter to the President’s recounting but sought only to blunt its impact.

“The context was not threatening each other, that we will go to war. The context is how do we stabilize the region and how do we prevent conflict.” Aware of the discrepancy between what he was saying and what the President said, Cayetano also said: “I will not contradict the President’s words. I am just telling you… my interpretation: There was no bullying or pushing around—it was not a threat.”

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana also offered his own interpretation of the exchange: “No threats, no bullying, everything was frank but friendly, candid but productive.”

It is possible, of course, for a threat to be issued even as the discussion remains frank but friendly, but the pivotal question—at least for now—relates to President Duterte’s decision to put the threat to go to war in Xi’s own mouth.

Did Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong himself, actually use phrasing which the interpreter translated into English as “we’ll go to war”? Neither Cayetano’s or Sta. Romana’s version denies that those words were used; indeed, if we parse diplomatic language as practiced by professional diplomats, “frank” and “candid” are usually employed to describe an honest airing of differences. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also did not issue a statement contradicting the President; spokesperson Hua Chunying merely sidestepped questions about Duterte’s recounting. So it is in fact possible that Xi did say those words. “But if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”

But war is much broader than simple force. Did Xi say that Beijing would use military or Coast Guard action to stop any Philippine drilling operation in the disputed area? This can be done without having to recall envoys, sever diplomatic relations, or suspend partnership agreements—as a state of war would. Was this all that Xi meant? This is still a serious form of reprisal—in the exact same way that Chinese “fishing vessels” cut the exploration cables of a Vietnamese ship surveying another disputed part of the South China Sea in 2012—but falls short of war. Part of the reason why Beijing has increased its civilian Coast Guard is precisely to avoid getting the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy directly involved in South China Sea disputes. A threat of this nature, then, falls neatly into the pattern China has set in the last few years.

Or did the President make it all up? Did he claim that Xi said those words to justify his muted position on Philippine claims vis-a-vis China, or on the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling? A majority of the Philippine population remains distrustful of China, and supports an assertive position based on our history and the landmark ruling. In the President’s view, claiming that Xi said he’ll go to war paints him into a corner. “What more could I say?” he told his audience last Friday.

As a matter of fact, he could have told Xi many things, if indeed Xi had made a candid but productive threat: My administration will now fully embrace the arbitral ruling; we will deepen cooperation with Vietnam, other claimants and our traditional allies; not least, we will abandon this bilateral consultation mechanism you have insisted on.

For years Manila refused bilateral talks with Beijing on maritime issues precisely because of fears China would dominate it. What is Xi’s war threat if not unmistakable proof of domination?

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/#ixzz4hzsrWErj
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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The Lead Editorial in the Philippine Inquirer “disappeared” today — perhaps because China in the person of President Xi Jinping himself revealed the Chinese position in the South China Sea to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Editorial appeared again and is above.

According to President Duterte, Mr. Xi said, if the Philippines chooses to drill for oil in the South China Sea, even within the exclusive economic zone  (EEZ) of the Philippines, China will “go to war” with the Philippines.

Rightly, the Inquirer’s editorial writers reminded readers that the Philippines had avoided bilateral South China Sea discussions with China for years because of fear that China would dominate the Philippines.

Now we have the proof that China has decided to get the South China Sea whatever the cost. And China will no longer be shy about dominating the Philippines.

The fear has become fact.

The once feared “master” and “slave” relationship has come  true.

As China sees it, the Philippines has given up its sovereignty. Try to get it back and we’ll go to war.

It may be difficult for Filipinos to voice their concerns as martial law takes over.

Time to learn to speak Chinese?

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:

 (Smart money is on China right now)

FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

 (Contains links to several earlier related stories)

FILE photo p rovided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.