‘Concerning resurgence’: AFP reports more Chinese fishing vessels swarming West PH Sea

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — Aerial patrols recently conducted by the military showed a “concerning resurgence” of Chinese fishing vessels swarming in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported on Thursday.

In a statement, the AFP Western Command (Wescom) said its Sept. 6 and 7 patrols revealed “heightened” swarming activity in three areas, where a total of 30 fishing vessels were spotted.

These are Rozul (Iroquois) Reef where 23 vessels were observed, Escoda (Sabina) Shoal where there were five vessels, and Baragatan (Nares) Bank where there were two.

The Wescom added that the Philippine Navy also reported on Aug. 24 that 33 Chinese fishing vessels were seen on Rozul Reef during a routine air patrol. It said previous swarming incidents in this feature of the WPS have been followed by reports of massive coral harvesting.

The same patrol likewise found swarming activity on Escoda Shoal, which the Wescom noted serves as a “marker for the approach to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal” and where “unauthorized Chinese shadowing of Philippine watercraft typically occurs.”

It stressed that such “intrusion[s]” by Beijing is a violation of Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction, as these are areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The Wescom said the increased presence of Chinese fishing vessels raises tensions in the area and concerns about "the potential implications for Philippines' maritime security, fisheries conservation, territorial integrity, and preservation of the marine environment.”

“As the CN (Chinese) swarming activity resurges, the Philippines continues to remain vigilant and take necessary measures to safeguard its vital national interests and maintain stability in the region,” the military added.