The Philippine government, through the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), has stated that around 220 fishing vessels believed to be operated by Chinese maritime militia personnel have massed within the waters of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the western island province of Palawan.
The NTF-WPS said it received a confirmed report from the Philippine Coast Guard saying that the vessels were sighted moored at Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea some 175 nautical miles off Palawan on March 7.
The coast guard said that, despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during nighttime. The NTF-WPS has noted this circumstance as a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment as well as risks to safety of navigation in the waters around the reef, which is claimed by both Manila and Beijing.
The government said it will continue to monitor the situation.
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