• PH protests China’s actions in Panatag Shoal

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    The Philippines lodged two diplomatic protests against China for ramming Filipino-manned fishing boats and poaching at the disputed Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal).

    The notes verbales were handed to the representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday.

    A report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) about the two incidents prompted the DFA’s action.

    The first incident indicated that on January 29, three fishing vessels bearing Philippine-flags—OG Barbie, Ocean Glory 2 and Ana Marie—were rammed by Chinese Coast Guard Vessel 3412 at the Bajo de Masinloc, the same disputed shoal that caused tensions between Manila and Beijing in 2012 during a naval standoff.

    The ramming of the fishing vessels, which reportedly caused heavy damage, greatly endangered the lives and safety of the Filipino fishermen on board.

    The second protest referred to another report from the PCG, where it said that at least 24 Chinese Utility Boats (CUBs) were seen collecting giant clams in the lagoon of Bajo de Masinloc on January 22.

    Chinese fishing vessels (CFVs) were also spotted transporting collected giant clams to other CFVs.

    “The Philippines strongly protested this destructive and illegal activity. The act of harvesting giant clams, which are among the most endangered marine species, entails the crushing and destruction of surrounding corals which result in the permanent destruction of the reef itself,” the statement said.

    It added that China’s “toleration of, and active support for, the environmentally harmful fishing practices by its nationals” at Bajo de Masinloc constitute breaches of its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

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