Number of Vietnamese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea on the rise

Fishermen in Masinloc, Zambales, are facing challenges not only from the China coast guard but also from an increasing number of Vietnamese fishermen in the area. The Filipinos expressed their concerns during a public consultation conducted by the House committee on national defense and security and the special committee on the West Philippine Sea.

According to the Filipino fishermen, the Vietnamese fishermen seem to have a good relationship with the Chinese coast guard or maritime militias, as they are allowed to operate in the waters around Bajo de Masinloc without any confrontation. In contrast, Filipino fishermen constantly experience harassment and threats from the Chinese.

One fisherman highlighted that Vietnamese vessels use banned equipment like “superlights” to attract fish, depriving Filipino fishermen of their catch. The Vietnamese fishermen are also intruding into Filipino fishermen’s payao, further exacerbating the situation.

During the consultation, plans were discussed to create an inter-agency panel to address the issues faced by Filipino fishermen. Concerns were also raised about China’s plan to detain foreigners and vessels found trespassing in what they claim as their territorial seas.

It was emphasized that a multi-sectoral or inter-agency approach may be needed to resolve the problems faced by the fishermen in Zambales. Lawmakers assured the fishermen and their families of the House’s commitment to providing assistance and crafting policies for their benefit. The aim is to solve not just the current issues but also to protect the interests of future generations of fisherfolk and the country as a whole.

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