Scientists warn of ‘dire ecological damage’ in WPS territories if Chinese incursion continues
MANILA, Philippines — A group of scientists on Friday raised alarm over China’s incursion in the West Philippine Sea, saying it may cause environmental and fisheries damage that could affect food security in the area.
The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, or collectively known as Agham, said China’s activities in the disputed waters may also affect the country’s fisheries production and fisherfolk welfare.
“With China’s illegal encroachment, fishes and other marine species are bound to lose their habitats as reclamation and the building of military bases has destroyed at least 16,000 hectares of reefs as of 2017. Rampant poaching of giant clams will also affect reefs,” the group said in a statement.
“China’s activities will also lead to a loss in the livelihood of about 627,000 fisherfolk, as their continuing aggression poses threats to the safety of our fisherfolk,” it added.
Agham also expressed concern that Filipino marine scientists conducting studies in the West Philippine Sea may “be subjected to harassment, thereby impeding scientific work vital to fisheries management.”
“China’s rampant demonstration of their dominance in the West Philippine Sea is also sending a strong message that they will not allow our country to develop our own natural resources within our territorial rights. Clearly, this is a violation of the country’s integrity of our national territory,” it said.
Some 220 militia vessels were also seen at the Julian Felipe Reef, prompting Manila to file a diplomatic protest against Beijing. However, the latter has insisted that these were only fishing boats taking shelter from bad weather conditions.
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