News / Asia

S. China Sea Dispute Blamed Partly on Depleted Fish Stocks

Protesters march towards the Chinese consulate during a rally in Manila's financial district of Makati, Philippines, May 11, 2012.Protesters march towards the Chinese consulate during a rally in Manila's financial district of Makati, Philippines, May 11, 2012.
x
Protesters march towards the Chinese consulate during a rally in Manila's financial district of Makati, Philippines, May 11, 2012.
Protesters march towards the Chinese consulate during a rally in Manila's financial district of Makati, Philippines, May 11, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Daniel Schearf
BANGKOK - China and the Philippines have announced temporary bans on fishing in areas of the South China Sea they both claim as sovereign territory. The bans may help cool tempers after ships from the two sides faced off in April. But, political analysts say a more permanent solution is needed to address a cycle of conflict partly caused by depleting fish stocks.

China every year imposes a ban on fishing for several weeks in a northern part of the South China Sea.

Beijing says the restriction, used for more than a decade, allows fish stocks to replenish.

While the Philippines and Vietnam complain it is just another way for China to assert its claims on maritime territories that they also dispute.

Ian Storey is with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. He says while Beijing's annual ban on fishing may seem like a good idea for fish stocks he agrees it may have an ulterior motive.

"Well, I think the primary reason for this fishing ban is for China to be able to demonstrate its claimed sovereign rights in the South China Sea," said Storey.

Storey says if the dispute was taken to the international court of justice Beijing could cite the ban as an example of exercising effective and continuing jurisdiction in support of its territorial claim.

Kim Bergmann is editor of the Asia-Pacific Defense Reporter and Defense Review Asia. He says the unilateral ban had put China and the Philippines on a path of confrontation.

"But, now that Manila has also come up with its own ban I think that that's a way of making sure, or at least, assisting a process of negotiation, and it's likely, in my opinion, to reduce tensions at least in the short term rather than heighten them," Bergmann noted.

Filipino and Chinese ships faced off last month over Chinese fishing in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island in China.

The tensions led to protests from both sides to respect their sovereign territory.

China claims most of the South China Sea, putting it in conflict with competing claims by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

One of the central drivers of the South China Sea dispute is competition over mineral and fishing-rich areas.

Bergmann says geologists believe the South China Sea contains enormous reserves of oil and natural gas, much of it in disputed areas.

"Cumulatively, the South China Sea probably has about 80 percent of the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia," Bergmann added.  "So, we're talking many billions of barrels of oil and many trillions of cubic feet of natural gas."

The ongoing tensions have prevented comprehensive surveys of oil and gas deposits.

But when it comes to fishing the South China Sea is known to be rich. The region provides about ten percent of the world's catch, but growing demand means fish stocks are more quickly depleted.

Storey says competition for fish has led to conflict at sea.

"Certainly, fishing vessels are operating further out and for longer periods because fish stocks are being depleted," Storey explained.  "What needs to happen is there needs to be an agreement among various countries in Southeast Asia and China to try and preserve these fish stocks. But, because of the territorial dispute that hasn't happened."

China's halt to fishing will go through August 1 while the Philippines did not indicate a time period for its ban.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid