China willing to probe poaching of giant clams at Scarborough
MANILA, Philippines — China is willing to investigate the poaching of giant clams by Chinese fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines’ top envoy to Beijing said on Wednesday.
“The issue of the giant clams is still a challenge. They themselves say that they are against it. And they say if you find, take note of the ship number and the time and they will investigate. And so we’re waiting for the results of that,” Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana told Filipino reporters in Beijing.
Sta. Romana said the mass harvesting of clams in Scarborough is “a major issue of concern.”
The envoy said China had declared as illegal the harvesting of giant clams, including its sale and manufacture.
“And the Chinese, based on their own statements and their mass media, supposedly have declared the fishing of giant clams and the sale and manufacture, the use and manufacture of giant clams since January 2017,” he said.
But, contrary to this, ABS-CBN News reported that Chinese vessels were “mass harvesting giant clams” at Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines strongly claims as its territory.
“So there is an issue of accountability. If that is the case, how come this is happening? And that is an issue that we continue to discuss,” Sta. Romana said.
“So between the statement and the reality, you need some accountability, and that is why through diplomacy that’s what we try to achieve,” he added.
The official said contentious issues like this were discussed during the bilateral consultative mechanism between the Philippines and China held this April.
Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone that Beijing seized after a two-month standoff with the Philippine Navy in 2012.
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