Chinese fishermen prepare to return to disputed waters of South China Sea

16 July, 2016 / Additional reporting by Associated Press, Li Jing / SCMP.com

Fishermen in Hainan Island are preparing to fish disputed areas of the South China Sea even though an international tribunal dealt a massive blow to China’s claimed sovereignty over the waters.

With both Chinese and Filipino fishermen vowing to fish the disputed waters, concerns are rising over possible confrontations and ecological damage.

Under the swelteringly hot sun at the Tanmen Pier in Qionghai, the north-eastern city of the island province of Hainan, on Thursday afternoon, four or five fishermen were busy loading a steel-hulled fishing boat, the 500 tonne Hainan Qionghai 82888, with dozens of packs of food and drinks, ranging from instant noodles, biscuits and pickled vegetables to mineral water, strong spirits and garlic .

 “We’re heading for the South China Sea to fish within four or five days,” said one of the fishermen. The sturdy middle-aged man, who declined to be named, said they planned to fish the waters around the Spratly Islands for one and a half months.

He said it was time to go back to the area after being on Hainan for almost a month, despite the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that China had no historical title over the waters and that the nation had violated the fishing rights of the Philippines.

The fishermen said they would ignore the ruling and fish the sea as usual, but this time they might not go to the Scarborough Shoal, where Filipino fishermen also go. Read more…

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