Department of Justice to assist in developing case against cyanide fishing in West Philippine Sea

DOJ to build case against foreign fishermen engaged in cyanide fishing at Panatag Shoal
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has pledged its support to relevant agencies in gathering evidence and preparing a case against individuals, reportedly Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen, who are allegedly using cyanide at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced yesterday.

“Under the leadership of President Marcos Jr., the Philippines will not tolerate any actions that harm our environment or deprive Filipino people of their right to its use and beauty,” Remulla stated.

This statement was made in response to reports that Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen have been using cyanide for fishing in the shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) found the lagoon at the shoal to be heavily damaged, potentially due to cyanide fishing.

Remulla emphasized that the DOJ, as the government’s principal law agency, has been actively involved in the country’s ongoing legal action against China over the grounding of its Coast Guard vessels near Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal, which caused significant damage to the area’s coral ecosystem.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will provide assistance to the BFAR in gathering evidence related to the alleged cyanide fishing reportedly done by foreign vessels at Panatag Shoal, according to PCG-West Philippine Sea spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela.

In line with this, the AFP has conducted three iterations of the Maritime Cooperative Activities (MCA) in the WPS over the past several months. This involved ships and aircraft of the US Indo-Pacific Command and the US Pacific Air Force sailing and flying alongside Philippine Navy vessels and Philippine Air Force fighter jets. The conduct of these combined maritime patrols in the WPS are being carried out amid continuing territorial issues between the Philippines and China. The military maintains that the joint military activities are not directed at any particular country.

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