Fishermen from Ly Son Island off Vietnam’s central coast have said they are resolutely maintaining voyages around the Hoang Sa archipelago, their traditional fishing ground, although they are facing difficulties from China’s illegal placement of a drilling rig there.

China illegally positioned the rig, escorted by a large number of vessels, including warships, to operate in Vietnam’s Lot 143 from early this month. The move seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago and its sovereign right and jurisdiction over the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The act violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over territorial waters and threatens local fishermen’s operations, they said.

“It is unacceptable,” said 39-year-old fisherman Nguyen Hong from An Hai commune’s Fisheries Trade Union in Ly Son island district, central Quang Ngai province.

Fisherman Le Binh affirmed that they still go out to sea to work at their Hoang Sa and Truong Sa traditional fishing grounds to catch seafood, contribute to economic development and protect the country’s sovereignty.

Meanwhile at the Nghia Phu Fishing Port, Quang Ngai city, fisherman Tran Tho said he has spent 30 years fishing in territorial waters around the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spartly) archipelagos. His vessel always crosses the location where China has positioned the oil rig on his way to the Hoang Sa sea area from Ly Son.

The Chinese illegal act has forced fishermen to take a longer route to their fishing grounds, he said, maintaining that he and his colleagues will not be intimidated.

On the morning of May 9, thousands of people in Ly Son Island and surrounding areas strongly protested China’s illegal act in the East Sea.

“Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa is undeniable. We demand China respect that and withdraw all equipment and vessels from Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone,” Nguyen Quoc Chinh, head of the An Hai communal Fisheries Trade Union, affirmed at the event.

Ly Son Island is home of the Hoang Sa Flotilla, set up by Nguyen Lords to go to Hoang Sa to measure the tides and establish the nation’s sea boundary.-VNA