Fish production in PH down 60-80% amid West Philippine Sea row

Fish production in PH down 60-80% amid West Philippine Sea issue, overfishing

/ 11:16 PM May 30, 2024

China and Japan embassies in the Philippines trade barbs on X over corals in the West Philippines Sea


MANILA, Philippines — The fish production in the country  decreased by 60 to 80 percent amid marine environment degradation and unfavorable fishing conditions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

 Dr. Jonathan Anticamara of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Biology said this grim statistic comes despite the government’s efforts to expand its fishing power and efforts.


“Government agencies give thousands of boats and ships, yet these are just lying [around],” Anticamara was quoted as saying in a statement of the College of Science on Thursday.


“As Asia’s and the Philippines’ fishing power increase, the production decreases. Fisheries production in the Philippines has declined by more than 60% or 80%,” he pointed out.

Scientists pointed to coral destruction and over-fishing in the South China Sea as the main culprits.

Parts of the South China Sea inside the western section of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are now locally referred to as West Philippine Sea since 2011 to assert the country’s sovereign rights there.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, even if such a claim has been effectively invalidated by a July 2016 international tribunal ruling that stemmed from a case filed by Manila in 2013. 

In line with this, China built an artificial island and is routinely harassing Philippine fisherfolk and government vessels operating inside the Philippine EEZ.


 Dr. Laura David, UP Diliman-Marine Science Institute Director, said reclamations in the West Philippine Sea caused profound coral degradation. 

“Somebody has to be held liable for all that damages because the damage is not just local,” David said in the same statement.

Mischief Reef, which was seized by China from the Philippines in 1995, saw the emergence of artificial islands which caused extensive coral damages.

In September 2023, the Philippine Coast Guard also reported coral reef damage in Sabina Shoal and Rozul Reef last year, pointing to China, which vehemently denied the accusations.

 Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the country could sue China over the environmental damages of the corals in the said areas.

In addition, David said the South China Sea is also hounded by overfishing.

 =“People think that our neighbors are interested in the West Philippine Sea because of natural gas,” David said.

“That’s true, but they’re also interested in the fish because they have to feed their population.”

David said that everything that happens across the whole South China Sea region ends up having an impact on all countries, but she said that the Philippines is feeling the most pinch with the number of “fish families” found in the West Philippine Sea declining from 34 to 22 in just 20 years.

To address this issue, Anticamara said marine research should be intensified in the West Philippine Sea.

 “Our marine resources are our treasures,” Anticamara said.

But we don’t have a lot of information on what’s going on.”

Anticamara said the county has yet to have a systemic database to analyze the maritime resources of the West Philippine Sea.

Research efforts in the West Philippine Sea, however, were not without efforts as China Coast Guard vessels harassed  Anticamara and other research teams while conducting extensive coral reef and fishery resources assessment there last March.

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“Even without China, if the Filipinos don’t have the intention to take care of these resources, then we’ll walk into the future where all of these resources are dead…” Anticamara said.


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TAGS: Fishing, West Philippine Sea

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