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Filipino fishermen are asserting their right to fish in the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which has been controlled by China since 2012. In a symbolic gesture, organisers released orange buoys with the phrase “Atin Ito” to send a message that Filipinos should be allowed to fish in international waters. Due to fear of confrontation with the Chinese, fewer and fewer Filipino fishermen have been venturing out to the shoal, which is known for its rich marine life.

The Scarborough Shoal was ruled as a common fishing ground for artisanal fisherfolk of claimant-states, including China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, in international arbitration. Despite this ruling, China asserts its sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, including the shoal. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea designates maritime zones for each country based on distance from their coast, but China continues to disregard these international laws.

The protest by Filipino fishermen aims to assert their rights to fish in the Scarborough Shoal, highlighting the ongoing tensions in the region. China’s control of the shoal has restricted access for Filipino fishermen, leading to economic hardships for those who rely on the marine resources in the area. The release of orange buoys with the message “Atin Ito” symbolises the Filipino fishermen’s determination to defend their rights against external threats.

International organisations and governments have called for peaceful resolutions to the disputes in the South China Sea, emphasising the importance of upholding international law. Despite the ruling that designated the Scarborough Shoal as a common fishing ground, China’s continued control of the area has raised concerns about the enforcement of maritime laws in the region. Filipino fishermen’s protest serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by those who rely on the South China Sea for their livelihoods.

The unity shown by Filipino fishermen in challenging China’s control of the Scarborough Shoal reflects their resilience and determination to defend their rights. The release of orange buoys with the message “Atin Ito” signifies a collective effort to push back against external threats and assert their sovereignty in the face of adversity. As tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate, the protest by Filipino fishermen serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle to protect the marine resources that are vital to their livelihoods.

In the midst of escalating tensions in the South China Sea, Filipino fishermen are taking a stand to defend their rights and push back against external threats. The symbolic gesture of releasing orange buoys with the message “Atin Ito” signifies their determination to fish in the Scarborough Shoal, despite China’s control of the area. As international laws are disregarded and sovereignty is challenged, the protest by Filipino fishermen highlights the ongoing struggles faced by those who rely on the sea for their livelihoods.

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