'Silent fishing war' in the South China Sea

Faced with diminishing stocks, Vietnam's fishermen find themselves on the front line of Beijing's ambitions

New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

HANOI • When boat QNG 90675 limped into the Vietnamese port at Quang Ngai on Dec 12, it showed the signs of a confrontation at sea with a Chinese coast guard ship. According to local officials, the coast guard boarded the boat, forced the crew of seven to stand with their hands behind their heads, and confiscated their catch and fishing gear, before cutting the boat's nets and casting them into the sea.

The boat had been fishing in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, as Vietnamese fishermen have for centuries, inside what Hanoi claims as the country's exclusive economic zone in what it calls the East Sea. With coastal areas of Vietnam overfished, the fishing grounds around the islands abound in species such as tuna and flying fish.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Silent fishing war' in the South China Sea. Subscribe