China is bulking up the fisheries fleet being sent to the South China Sea.
The fishery administration vessel China Yuzheng 44061, sent by Zhanjiang Division of Guangdong provincial fishery administration, has joined the fishery administration's largest vessel, China Yuzheng 44183, on its mission to protect the country's interests in the South China Sea, it was announced yesterday.
The two ships are set to sail today from Sanya on the south end of Hainan Island and head 180 nautical miles south, eventually reaching the Xisha Islands during their 15-day mission.
The joint mission is aimed at curbing increasing illegal fishing activities in the area, said Zhu Yingrong, an official with the administration of Fishery and Fishing Harbor Supervision of the South China Sea.
Zhu said the fleet will conduct routine but intense missions in the region, such as patrolling the waters of China's exclusive economic zones, protecting the interests and safety of Chinese fishermen, curbing illegal fishing activities and reinforcing the protection of China's rights and interests in the waters.
Officials last month also said more ships would be sent to patrol the "disputed" area in the next three to five years.
On March 10, the administration of Fishery and Fishing Harbor Supervision of the South China Sea in Guangzhou sent China Yuzheng 311, the country's biggest fishery patrol vessel, to curb illegal fishing.
It arrived in the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea and conducted half-month patrolling missions in the waters of China's exclusive economic zones, including the Nansha, Xisha and Zhongsha Islands.
It was joined on March 26 by the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region's largest fishery administration ship, China Yuzheng 45001.
Wang Hanling, an expert with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said this kind of patrolling mission is a "positive" move to protect China's interests and rights in the South China Sea, where a series of disputes occurred in March. He added the patrols should be "more consistent and coordinated" to guarantee China's rights and interests there.