EU says barriers disregard UNCLOS

Credit to Author: Pia Lee-Brago| Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2023 00:00:00 +0800

MANILA, Philippines — China’s laying of a floating barrier in Panatag Shoal is “deeply concerning” and “dangerous,” European Union Ambassador Luc Véron said yesterday.

“The installation of the floating barrier is dangerous, detrimental to the livelihoods of fishermen and disregards the peace-driven objectives of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” Véron said in a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the Chinese coast guard installed floating barrier in the southeast of Bajo de Masinloc, the old name of Panatag or Scarborough Shoal.

The PCG and BFAR condemned the CCG’s act, saying it was meant to prevent Filipino fishing boats from entering Panatag Shoal, an integral part of the Philippines over which the country has sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction, according to UNCLOS.

The 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague affirmed the status of Panatag Shoal as a traditional fishing ground of Filipino fishermen.

The floating barrier with an estimated length of 300 meters was discovered by the PCG and BFAR personnel onboard BRP Datu Bankaw during routine maritime patrol last Sept. 22.

Maritime law expert professor Jay Batongbacal said “the barrier is placed to prevent Filipino fishermen from witnessing the destruction caused by Chinese clam diggers as they harvest giant clams and other endangered species under the protection of the China Coast Guard.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) vowed to “take all appropriate measures to protect our country’s sovereignty and the livelihood of our fisherfolk.”

“China’s reported installation of barriers and its negative impact on the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk or any other activity that infringes upon the Philippines’ sovereignty and jurisdiction in Bajo de Masinloc are violations of international law, particularly UNCLOS and the Arbitral Award,” the DFA said in a statement.