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Fishery deal a chance to solve sea row

Publication Date : 12-01-2014


Pursuing joint fishery agreements with China is a “window of opportunity” for peacefully resolving the Philippines’ dispute with its neighbour over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

This is part of the key policy recommendations and “salient, actionable proposals” that international law experts and scholars will be submitting to President Benigno Aquino III, according to former Sen. Edgardo Angara.

The experts met in Manila last month for a two-day forum and roundtable discussion on “promoting cooperation and resolving crises in Asian territorial maritime disputes.”

Conducted under the auspices of Angara Centre, the forum gathered a select group of recognized experts in international law: Donald Emmerson (Stanford University, United States), Yoichiro Sato (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan), Shen Dingli (Fudan University, China), Ian Storey (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore) and Harry Roque (University of the Philippines).

The experts presented a variety of approaches and ideas that could help inform the discussions on the dispute by policy makers and the public.

Exploring the possibility of joint fishing agreements could be timely amid the new fishing restrictions that China has sought to impose on disputed portions of the South China Sea, which include parts of the sea within the Philippines’ 327-kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Beijing has authorised the maritime police of Hainan province to board and seize foreign vessels entering what it considers to be Chinese waters.

“Fish is migratory and no country can and should claim exclusive domain. Coastal countries with overlapping claims will jointly benefit through joint regulation of fishing and joint fish species management. But not through strong-arm methods unbecoming of an emerging power,” he said.

The Angara Centre for Law and Economics organised the special one-day forum last December 5, which was followed by a closed-door roundtable discussion the following day, “to make recommendations that go beyond conventional wisdom,” said Angara, who retired last year after a three-decade career in politics and public service.

Angara Centre is a think tank which the former senator founded “to elevate the level of discourse on domestic and international issues that confront the country.”

It aims to generate rigorous, high-quality law and economics researches that are especially important for informing Philippine policy making.



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