China’s harvesting of corals, clams perils fisheries in disputed sea
Published: 11:15 a.m., July 10, 2018 | Updated: 1:14 a.m., July 11, 2018
Vast fisheries in the South China Sea are in danger of collapsing in the next decade, as production has reached a plateau, a maritime expert warned on Monday.
“Based on available data from different sources, fisheries in the West Philippine Sea as well as the entire South China Sea are in danger of collapse within the next decade or so,” Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, said in a policy forum held at the Bayleaf Hotel in Manila.
Batongbacal said the state of South China Sea fisheries was alarming, as “in cases of fishery production, when it peaks and plateaus, it is usually followed by a sudden collapse.”
Worsening the situation is the harvesting of corals and giant clams by Chinese fishermen, Batongbacal added.
A video obtained by the Inquirer last month showed the extent of damage to corals at Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
Filipino fishermen have accused their Chinese counterparts of destroying the coral reefs and harvesting giant clams at the shoal.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has said the Philippines will not protest the destruction of the reefs and instead bring it up in the next bilateral discussion with China.
But Batongbacal said the Duterte administration should have a “more urgent effort” to change its policy “from a passive observer to being an active protector.”
“We really need to protect the fishery habitat and fish stocks in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
/kga /pdi /atm
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