More locals now fishing in Bajo de Masinloc
More local fisherfolk are able to get their catch from Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in Zambales province despite the continuous presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said it monitored about 45 Filipino fishing boats off to Bajo de Masinloc when they conducted “intensified” maritime operations there from Feb. 28 to March 5.
Through the ongoing “Bayanihan sa Karagatan,” personnel of two of PCG’s Parola-class patrol vessels, BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) and BRP Capones (MRRV-4404), were providing Filipino fisherfolk in Masinloc with relief supplies and COVID-19 kits “to uphold their health and welfare” at the sea.
In a statement, PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu considered the recent data “a significant milestone in promoting maritime security and maritime safety” in that part of the WPS.
“Seeing more Filipino fishing boats in Bajo de Masinloc is proof of our intensified efforts to safeguard Filipino fishermen who consider fishing as their primary source of livelihood,” he said.
“Through our regular interaction, we assure them that the PCG will remain active and present in the area. We always tell our fisherfolk that we are with them to keep them safe,” Abu added.
Also known locally as Panatag (calm), the shoal is a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and islands around a 150-kilometer-wide lagoon. It is located inside the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone. The closest Philippine landmass is Palauig town, also in Zambales, which is about 220 km away.
Abundant marine resources in the shoal and its surrounding waters draw fisherfolk from both China and the Philippines, which both claim it as part of their territory.
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