‘Worse than invasion’: China ships poach 240,000 kg of fish daily in PH seas, says group
SAN ANTONIO, Zambales—The Philippines could face a fish shortage amid reports that as much as 240,000 kilos, or more than 260 tons, are illegally taken daily by Chinese fishing vessels that had massed in the West Philippine Sea, a grassroots environmental group said on Thursday (April 15).
Citing a report by the National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), the Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization (Hero) said the Chinese ships found around the Union Banks and Pag-asa Islands were at least 60 meters in length and each capable of catching at least 1 ton of fish every day.
“The Chinese fishermen have been overfishing, depleting our marine resources,” said Villardo Abuene, Hero president, in a statement.
“They even sell their catch to our fishermen at a higher price,” Abuerne said.
Even some fishermen in Zambales province have reportedly stopped going to the Scarborough Shoal, a known rich traditional fishing ground of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea, due to depleting fish catch in the area.
In the past years, fishermen in the province had been driven away from the contested shoal by Chinese coast guards and some Chinese fishing vessels.
“This is actually worse than invasion,” Abuerne said.
“Our fishermen are starving. They face hunger because of the Chinese,” he added.
Abueme has called on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to investigate China’s overfishing in the West Philippine Sea.
On Wednesday, the NTF-WPS said an estimated 240 Chinese vessels were seen spread throughout the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols last April 11.
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