China to conduct daily sea patrols to protect fishermen

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, Feb 7 (IANS) China will conduct daily patrols in the South China Sea in 2014 to better safeguard the "legitimate interests" of domestic fishermen, the government said Thursday.

Describing 2012 as "a most challenging year", Wu Zhuang, chief of the South China Sea Fishery Bureau under the ministry of agriculture, said they have taken a "very strong position" regarding fishery patrols and protection.

"Thanks to our more frequent patrols and quicker responses, no Chinese vessels engaging in normal fishery operations in the Nansha waters were illegally seized by foreign countries last year," Xinhua quoted the official as saying.

He said the time-frame set for the patrols is based on the bureau's law enforcement capacity.

"A noticeable improvement will be seen in our enforcement capacity in the next two years, as the bureau has entered a period of rapid development," he said.

The bureau's fishery patrol ships stayed at sea for a record 183 days last year.

More than 400 fishing vessels are currently operating in the South China Sea.