The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday reported that Filipinos continue to fish unhampered in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) despite China’s unilateral fishing ban.

In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview, BFAR spokesperson Nazario Briguera said the agency has yet to receive any reports of Filipino fishers being blocked by Chinese vessels in the WPS.

“Sa ngayon wala naman tayong natatanggap na ulat na pinipigilan na ang ating mga mangingisda kaugnay nitong ipinalabas ang China na unilateral declaration patungkol sa fishing ban, at malinaw po ang posisyon natin diyan (As of now, we have received any report that our fishers are being blocked in relation to the unilateral declaration on the fishing ban from China, and our position on the matter remains clear),” he said, referring to the country’s position of not recognizing the ban due to the lack of legal basis.

Nazario assured of a whole-of-government approach in case Chinese forces make good of its stern warning on the detention of “trespassers” starting June 15, echoing President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s assertion of the country’s rights and sovereignty over the WPS.

“Kapag itinuloy po talaga ito ng China, mangangahulugan na naman ito ng panibagong violation sa bahagi ng China (If China will do it, it will mean yet another violation on its part),” he said.

“This would entail provocation, dahil ito po’y illegal, walang ina-angklahang international law ang kanilang gagawing pag-aaresto sa ating mga mangingisda (because this is illegal, their arrest of our fishers is not anchored on any international law),” he added.

Nazario, meanwhile, reassured Filipino fishers of the government’s full support and continuous programs to bolster their livelihood over the WPS.

These include increased government presence in the WPS, provision of fuel and food, as well as the launching of BFAR’s Livelihood Activities to Enhance Fisheries Yields and Economic Gains from the West Philippine Sea (LAYAG-WPS).

To date, the National Municipal Fisherfolk registration records 385,000 Filipino fishers from the western portions of the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa.

Fish production in the area is estimated at 11.87 percent of the total Philippine marine capture fisheries. (PNA)