PCG: Filipino fishermen continue to sail to Bajo de Masinloc despite threats from China

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday said Filipino fishermen continue to get their catch in Bajo de Masinloc despite threats posed by the presence of China Coast Guard (CCG) in the area.

“Everytime we conduct our own maritime patrol in Bajo de Masinloc together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, as witnessed by those journalists embedded last weekend, we were able to monitor as many as 54 mother vessels…the estimated catch during that time is 168 tons,” PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Jay Tarriela told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Tarriela said it has been 11 years since China, through its deployment of the CCG, took control of Bajo de Masinloc’s lagoon which is an ideal place to fish and take shelter. This was following the standoff in 2012 that pushed the Philippine government to file an arbitration case against Beijing.

China continues to reject the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that invalidated its expansive claims in the South China Sea. The decision also ruled in favor of the Philippines in areas of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf that are being claimed by Beijing.

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, is part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles (NM) west of the province and falls within the Philippines' 200 NM EEZ.

Tarriela said Filipino fishermen are still unable to enter the lagoon, which was last seen being guarded by two CCG vessels inside and one outside. Still, they are able to catch fish at least around the area.

The PCG and the BFAR have been encouraging more fishermen to sail by distributing fuel and grocery assistance, he added.