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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  May 2011

Vietnam-China sea row continues

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Vietnam is considering establishing fishery patrol teams to protect Vietnamese fishermen and boats within Vietnam’s territorial waters, as fishermen complained that Chinese boats are violating local fishing grounds.

Under a proposal pending the government’ approval, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would need nearly VND2.1 trillion (US$102.14 million) for building ten government fishery patrol boats and many others at 28 coastal provinces.

The ministry said the violations of marine laws have increased recently, stressing that foreign boats are illegally entering Vietnam’s territorial waters more to catch seafood with hundreds of boats a day.

Chu Tien Vinh, a ministry’s senior fishery official, said Chinese fishing boats have recently “violated Vietnamese waters, even threatened the safety of Vietnamese fishermen. This is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the arrests of Vietnamese fishermen by other countries are also on increase lately, the ministry added.

In fact, fishermen and officials alike in the central province of Phu Yen and Quang Ngai are voicing their concerns that more Chinese boats have illegally entered the country’s territorial waters and taken up local fishing grounds.

Colonel Nguyen Trong Huyen, commander of Border Guards’ Headquarters in Phu Yen Province, said over the past 10 days fishermen reported that every day between 120 and 150 fishing boats of China were operated within waters from Da Nang City to the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago.

Sometimes there were more than 200 Chinese boats fishing in Vietnam’s waters, he stressed. “Previously Chinese boats have violated our waters, but this was the first time there were so many boats,” Huyen said.

Le Van Tuan, a fisherman from Tuy Hoa Town, Phu Yen Province, said when he saw Chinese boats fishing in Vietnam’s water, his crew asked the Chinese to leave “but they refused to do so.” “Because their boats were bigger than ours, we did not dare to come near, so we had to see them continue fishing” Tuan said.

According to Colonel Huyen, most of the Chinese boats have bigger capacity and are protected by marine surveillance ships, so Vietnamese fishermen have many difficulties protecting their fishing grounds.

Nguyen Ngoc Ry, an official from Phu Yen’s Border Guards division, also said local fishermen try to avoid encounters with Chinese boats partly because their boats are small. Not to mention that they had put lots of money into the boats.

“In encounters, our fishermen will be in disadvantage,” Ry said.

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