Beijing (AFP) – Beijing on Tuesday announced penalties for “illegal” fishing in its waters, including those it claims in the South China Sea, weeks after an international tribunal ruled that those claims have no legal basis.
The Supreme Court defined penalties for boats operating in areas, including the disputed region and its contiguous economic zones, in a move that could raise regional tensions
The decision appears to be an attempt to strengthen Chinese rules governing the waters, with a focus on sanctions for illegal fishing.
The question of who has the rights to fish in the disputed South China Sea has been a major point of contention between Beijing and Manila, which brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
The new regulations outline penalties for both Chinese and “foreign” fishermen operating “illegally” in Chinese waters, including the country’s “exclusive economic zone” (EEZ), a 200-nautical mile region surrounding a country’s territory.
The UN-backed tribunal denied China’s claims to an EEZ in the Spratly Islands, where the Chinese coastguard regularly expels fishing vessels from the Philippines.
Beijing refused to accept the ruling, saying the court had no jurisdiction.
China also has maritime disputes with a number of other countries, including Japan and Vietnam.
Those that “illegally enter” Chinese waters more than once in a year or refuse to leave the waters will be subject to fines and up to a year in jail, a post on the court’s website said.
It also established penalties for harvesting coral and giant clams, as well as other endangered species.
Any foreigners who believe that Beijing has violated their rights are welcome to take their claims to Chinese courts, the ruling said.