Vietnam will dispatch fisheries surveillance ships to protect and assist its fishermen in areas where China has issued unilateral fishing bans in the East Sea, internationally known as South China Sea.
China’s Ministry of Agriculture on Monday issued a ban on fishing in a number of areas from May 1 to August 16, which include the Gulf of Tonkin near the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in the East Sea.
Vietnam has condemned the ban, saying China’s move has seriously violated its maritime sovereignty over Hoang Sa.
The Directorate of Fisheries under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will deploy fisheries surveillance ships across its territorial waters with a focus on the areas where China has issued its illegal fishing ban, Vu Duyen Hai, an official from the directorate, told a press briefing on Friday.
Fishermen are advised to only operate in safe areas and in groups while maintaining communication with their local governments, surveillance ships and other forces should an incident occur, Hai said.
China has been issuing the so-called fishing ban since 1999, despite opposition from Vietnam and other countries in the region.
In 1974, taking advantage of the withdrawal of American troops from the Vietnam War, China invaded Hoang Sa. A brief but bloody naval battle with the forces of the then U.S.-backed Republic of Vietnam ensued.
The Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, the other hotspot in the region, is claimed in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.