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China will launch routine fishery patrols around Nansha waters in South China Sea this year to better protect the legitimate interests of Chinese fishermen in the area, the Chinese fishery administration said on Sunday. Wu Zhuang, chief of the South China Sea Fishery Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture, said promoting fishery patrols around the Nansha Islands on a regular basis is the main priority of fishery law enforcement this year.
"In face of many concentrated new challenges, the fishery-protection work this year includes guarding the Huangyan Islands and the Meiji Reef, strengthening the supervision and administration of Xisha waters and Beibu Gulf, and developing regular-based fishery patrols in around Nansha Islands," Wu said.
Along with the perfection of vessel equipment and personnel, China is expected to accelerate its pace in terms of fishery patrols in the South China Sea, Wu said, adding that the bureau has taken a very strong position regarding fishery patrols and protection.
Analysts said regular patrols in the South China Sea highlight great advances in China's law enforcement capability in relevant waters, as Beijing seeks to safeguard its sovereignty and national interests in the region.
Yang Baoyun, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at Peking University, said that apart from sending naval patrols that provide protection to domestic fishermen, flexible policies and diplomacy by government leaders are also needed in dealing with islands disputes with Southeast Asian counties, as fishing rights and regional stability should both be taken into account.
China's fishery administration began exploring ways to protect fishermen's interests in the South China Sea in 2012, as rows between Chinese fishermen and naval vessels of neighboring countries constantly flared up in the area. Due to the frequent patrols and quick response of the vessels, no illegal foreign detentions of Chinese fishing boats were reported around Nansha waters last year, Wu said.
According to Xinhua, more than 400 fishing vessels are currently operating in the South China Sea.
"Where there is a fishing vessel, there is our patrol ship. We will overcome all difficulties to protect fishermen," said Captain Yang Jia'en, head of the patrol vessel Yuzheng 302.
(China Daily 02/25/2013 page11)