Philippine police seized a Chinese fishing vessel and detained its 11 crew members in South China Sea waters, claimed by both countries, in the latest escalation of their bitter maritime row.
National police spokesman Reuben Sindac said yesterday the 15-tonne boat was intercepted while fishing off Half Moon Shoal, west of Palawan, in what he said are Philippine waters.
The crew will be further charged with violating anti-poaching laws after a huge haul of 500 turtles was found on board, Sindac added.
But Beijing angrily responded that it has “undisputable sovereignty” over the Half Moon Shoal, which it calls the Ban Yue Reef, and urged the Philippines to “stop taking further provocative action.”
“Relevant authorities from China have arrived at the scene,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. “We ask the Philippines side to give their explanation and deal with this case properly,” Hua added.
“We ask the Philippines side to release the vessel and the crew.”
Lying around 111 kilometers west of Palawan, the shoal is located on the eastern edge of the Spratlys and is believed to harbor vast oil and gas resources.
Sindac said the vessel was intercepted along with a Filipino-manned fishing boat that also had a catch of around 40 protected turtles.
Half of the turtles aboard the two boats were already dead.
The Filipino fishermen were also detained.
It was not clear whether the two boats were working together when they were caught.
Source: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 8/5/2014