China plans daily fishery patrols in East Vietnam Sea in 2014
Wu Zhuang, chief of the South China Sea Fishery Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture, said the timeframe for the patrols is based on his bureau's growing 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.
Describing 2012 as "a most challenging year," Wu said his bureau has taken a very strong position regarding fishery patrols and protection.
He said the bureau's fishery patrol ships stayed at sea for a record high of 183 days on average last year.
"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," he said.
On Thursday morning, on behalf of the Chinese government, Wu sent Lunar New Year greetings to the China Yuzheng 302 and China Yuzheng 311, vessels posted in waters off the Meiji Reef and Huangyan Island, respectively.
"As the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches and at a time of family reunions, you, subordinated to the needs of the county, stand fast at your posts in the motherland's southern frontier and strive valiantly to safeguard state sovereignty and the legitimate interests of domestic fishermen," he said.
More than 400 fishing vessels are currently operating in the South China Sea, most of which will have to usher in the Year of Snake, which begins on February 10, at sea.
"Where there is a fishing vessel, there is our patrol ship. We will overcome all difficulties to protect fishermen," said Captain Yang Jia'en, who heads the China Yuzheng 302.
A video feed from the patrol ship also showed three Chinese fishing vessels operating near the Meiji Reef.
In the Huangyan Island, fishery inspectors onboard the China Yuzheng 311 can only communicate with the China Fishery Command Center for the South China Sea through marine satellites.