Vietnamese Fishermen of Quang Ngai Province Attacked in the Paracel Islands by China: 3 Boats Sunk

This is a translation by Oxford Omnia of an article by Minh Hoàng on the Vietnamese news site of zing.vn, originally published in Vietnamese on August 24, 2017.

Rescuers tow sunk Vietnamese fishing boat to land in 2014. Photo: Minh Hoang.

Over the last three months, 21 fishing boats with 136 fishermen of Quang Ngai who were fishing in their traditional fishing grounds in Hoang Sa [the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea], have continuously been chased and attacked.

The Fishermen of Quang Ngai are continuously attacked in the Paracel Islands

From the beginning of June until now, 21 fishing boats of Quang Ngai and their fishermen have been attacked and chased in the maritime area of the Paracels [in the South China Sea].

The leader of the high commandment of the [Vietnamese] Border Guards of Quang Ngai informed [us] that during the recent period the Chinese side has increased chasing and attacking fishermen of Quang Ngai when they were fishing in the Paracels. Over less than the past three months,  this local region had 21 fishing boats with 136 fishermen attacked by certain Chinese forces. Among these boats, 3 were rammed and 2 sank.

Mr Nguyen Quang Trung, Vice President of the People’s Committee of the District of Binh Son aded that during the past month 14 boats particularly in the District of Binh Son were attacked by the Chinese side have robbed and destroyed their properties, two fishing boats have been rammed and sank in this area. The economic damage has been very big.

Mr Trung sent a petition to the Government proposing they have a solution to fight diplomatically against this actions of China, which has been chasing and attacking the Vietnamese fishing boats operating legally on their traditional fishing grounds in the Paracels. [Mr. Trung added that] the Vietnamese executive forces on sea must push strongly their activities of patrols and protect sovereignty to allow the fishermen to peacefully continue their fishing.

Exchanges with Zing.vn in the morning of August 24th, the Minister of Agriculture and Development of the countryside, Mr Vu Van Tam, confirmed that China has rammed, stopped, and harassed Vietnamese fishermen to prevent them from their normal fishing activities in the Paracels and in different areas [of the South China Sea]. Mr Tam insisted to say that all the competent services among the Ministry of Agriculture and Development of the Countryside are following very closely this matter and are trying urgently to consolidate evidence of the Vietnamese diplomatic struggle with China. The Ministry also demands to the forces responsible of [Vietnamese] fishing surveillance to cooperate with other different forces so that they will increase the patrols of control and help fishermen to stick to the sea quietly. Minister Tam is paying attention to the fact that the fishermen going to the open sea must follow a pattern of nesting (groups of boats fishing together), so that they will be able in time to face any eventuality and save and rescue and help each other in situations of insecurity and unlucky events. Mr Tam (adds) our compatriots must have the GPS device and the means of communication on the sea to keep in touch with the mainland Coast Guard post so that they can inform in time the competent service.

Moreover, an important point is that the fishermen must take pictures to have proofs for the fight to convince China and the other nations concerned with this persecution which imprison and keep the fishing boats of the fishermen who are fishing legally in the Vietnamese maritime area.

Putting Sea Cucumbers and Conchs on the List of Fishing Items that are Forbidden to Be Exploited

The leader of Quang Ngai petitioned to the Government that the Government should put sea cucumbers and conchs onto the list of the items that are forbidden to be exploited and to punish severely every case of contravening, especially in the case of brokers.

Mr Nguyen Ngoc Oai, Vice Director of the General Branch of Products of the Sea, proposed that the Ministry of the Police cooperate with the Ministry of Defense to enquire and treat according to the penal code any organization or broker that pushes the fishermen to go in a foreign country to fish illegally. The leaders of all the littoral provinces and cities recognized the situation of the fishermen that violates the maritime area of other nations because of their unawareness of their actions is not yet good, the sources of the fishing products of the waters is diminishing and the way of facing both lacks effectiveness and does not sufficiently disincentivize overfishing.

The Minister of Agriculture and Development of the Countryside declared at the Assembly that the Ministry is increasing the capacity to make sea fishing survey forces cooperate with other executive forces to protect and help the fishermen to stick to the sea quietly.

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