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.
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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid