The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have strongly condemned China Coast Guard’s (CCG) installation of a 300-meter floating barrier in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc (BDM).
This barrier has prevented Filipino Fishing Boats (FFBs) from entering the shoal, jeopardizing their livelihood.
The PCG and BFAR made this discovery during a routine maritime patrol on September 22, 2023. The CCG allegedly deployed three Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) and a Chinese Maritime Militia service boat to install the floating barrier in response to the BFAR vessel’s presence in the area.
This incident is part of a pattern reported by Filipino fishers, where the CCG installs barriers whenever a significant number of Filipino fishers are present. During the patrol, more than 50 FFBs were observed to be engaged in fishing activities.
Recognizing the importance of supporting these fishers, the BFAR provided grocery items and fuel subsidies to sustain their operations. However, tensions escalated when four CCG vessels initiated radio challenges, claiming that the presence of the BFAR vessel and Filipino fishermen violated international and domestic laws.
The BFAR vessel responded, emphasizing their routine patrol within BDM’s territorial sea. Notably, the presence of media personnel onboard the BFAR vessel prompted the CCG vessels to maintain a safe distance and move away.
PCG Commandant CG Admiral Artemio Abu expressed commitment to supporting BFAR and other government agencies in ensuring the safety and security of Filipino fishermen.
In a statement, PCG said it will continue working closely with relevant agencies to address these challenges and protect maritime rights and domains.