China is causing P33-B annual damage to WPS reefs, says expert

Image from Save Philippine Seas Facebook page
  • The annual damage to PH reefs caused by China is estimated to be P33-B
  • Marine scientists believe these illegal activities by Chinese fishermen should be stopped
  • They are also pushing for the creation of a new department to take care of the ocean

MANILA, Philippines – Besides encroaching in Philippine territory, China is also causing approximately P33-B damage every year to reefs; this was according to a maritime expert.

Dr. Deo Florence L. Onda, deputy director for research of UPMSI (UP Marine Science Institute) said during a forum organized by Oceana Philippines in Quezon City on Wednesday the value, which he still considers a ‘conservative estimate, “includes all the services that we get from the coral reefs like climate regulation and the benefits we get from the ecosystem.”

Dr. Florence Onda| Image from Green Talents

The estimate was supposedly based on the baseline value of $353,429 (P18 million) per hectare per year for coral reefs determined by a Dutch information company, Elsevier, during a study in 2012.

This was also concurred by maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal who said that the estimate did not even include areas that were not visible to satellites.

Batongbacal  further explained that the majority of these damages were the result of Chinese fishermen’s mass harvesting of clams as well as China’s extensive reclamation in the West Philippine Sea.

Image from Daily Sabah

The marine scientists  also warned that should these unscrupulous Chinese activities in the WPS continue without action from the Philippine government, marine resources will eventually be depleted and in the process pose a threat to our food security.

“In Scarborough Shoal, they even destroy the reefs themselves. If this continues, the shoal would be completely wiped out in five years,” said Batongbacal.

Image from BFAR via PNA

One way to address the issue, Onda said, is the  creation of a Department of Oceans and Fisheries which will be tasked to protect the ocean by putting resources there more than what Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is capable of.

Presently, BFAR’s mandate is for the development, improvement, management and conservation of the Philippines’ fisheries and aquatic resources.