China told: Be firm on giant clams trade ban to save South China Sea reefs
MANILA, Philippines — China should strictly implement a ban on giant clams trade in order to save the reefs in the South China Sea from further degradation.
This was the call of American environmentalist and marine biologist Dr. Kent Carpenter on Friday since harvesting and selling of giant clams have caused massive destruction in the marine ecosystems of the disputed South China Sea in recent years.
In 2017, China banned the harvesting and selling of giant clams. But Chinese fishermen, especially in Hainan, continue to dig up the seabed with modern and destructive fishing methods that have taken a toll on the reefs. They even go beyond China’s territorial waters or those of its neighbors to harvest giant clams.
“China would need to restrict the actual trade in order to really put a stop to what’s happening in the South China Sea because if their fishermen can’t sell their clams, they will not go out there to do their destructive fishing methods,” Carpenter said over ABS CBN News Channel.
“It will depend on how proactive China is or will be in stopping this trade,” added the expert, who also served as one of the consultants of the Philippine legal team in the South China Sea arbitration case.
The tridacna or large clams, for instance, are being polished and carved into valuable jewelry.
“It is referred to as white gold now,” Carpenter said.
“This is is one of the reasons why there’s such an active fishery for tridacna that are already existing. Tridacna takes a very long time to grow, so when you take them out it’s difficult for them to recover,” he added.
Giant clams are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna and are considered vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to various threats, such as overfishing, pollution, climate change, and poaching.
The ecosystem destruction from giant clam harvesting now spans 104 square kilometers wide in the South China Sea, which is four times larger from the damage from China’s artificial island-building with 24 sq.km., said the expert.
Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported in May, with accompanying satellite photos, the extent of damage from the harvesting of giant clams in Scarborough Shoal and throughout the Paracels, including at Bombay Reef.
Edited by KGA
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