Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Now the 7 Filipino fishermen who exposed China harvesting all giant clams and destroying Ph Reef gone missing
Chinese clam poachers making ‘thousands of dollars’ while destroying entire reef — expert
Chinese poachers are making “thousands of dollars” by extracting clams in the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea and selling them, a US think tank expert said. But such a lucrative business has also destroyed the resource-rich waters’ marine environment and could cost coastal communities their livelihoods.
According to an ABS-CBN News report, the Chinese continue to harvest giant clams at Scarborough, locally known as “Panatag” and is considered as a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales on the western shores of the Philippine island of Luzon.
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“The Chinese poachers aren't eating them either. They can get thousands of dollars for each shell for jewelry & figurines. They toss the meat into the sea,” Poling said.
“They've destroyed over 40,000 acres of reef via clam harvesting. That's more than 10x as much as their island building killed,” he added.
Chinese harvesting giant clams in Scarborough Shoal
Filipino fishermen have been watching the Chinese giant clam extraction go on for years at Scarborough Shoal. The workers come from wooden trawlers which are capable of lifting small boats on large nets and bear the flag of China.
They also said this operation is already taking its toll on the much smaller spear-fishing and net-fishing that they do.
"Yung tubig lumalabo. Hindi ka rin masyado maka-ano sa gabi kasi malabo na nga makati pa. Magkasugat sugat yung katawan mo dahil sa kati, magmaga, ganoon," Torres said.
(The water becomes cloudy. You cannot also fish at night because it is really cloudy and can cause itches. Your body might get wounds or swelling because it's really itchy.)
They are also beginning to worry about the fate of Scarborough Shoal itself.
"Matira para diyan sa akin ay buhangin balang araw. Kasi araw araw ba naman silang kukuha diyan, huhukayin nila. Mga bagong tinubo na Pilipino wala na silang madatdatnan dito balang araw.," fisherman Romulo Etac said.
(One day, all that will be left there will be sand. Every day, they get something from there. The younger Filipinos will no longer see and find anything here one day.)
There are only two of these trawlers when the team first came to Scarborough Shoal, but now, there are eight big boats which continue to extract giant clam shells under the water.
Fishermen said this isn't the biggest number of boats they've seen this far.
As of today, there are no less than 14 Chinese vessels in the area. Each one, fulfilling its tasks in Scarborough Shoal, unhampered.
FISHERS SAY, ESPERON CONFIRMS
Chinese taking giant clams, destroying reefs in Scarborough
aIf members of the Chinese coast guard have been taking fish from Filipino fishermen in the Scarborough Shoal, Chinese fishermen have been taking giant clams and have destroyed coral reef in the resource-rich area.
According to Jun Veneracion's report on "24 Oras", fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales who fish waters off the shoal have seen how Chinese fishermen treat the giant clams and the corals.
"Pinaghuhukay nila e. 'Yung nasira ang mga corals e. Dapat pangitlugan ng mga isda, wala na. Parang winasak lang," a fisherman said.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, the chairman of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, confirmed that Chinese fishermen were behind the destruction of the corals.
Filipino scientists planted Scarborough clams harvested by Chinese —
The giant clams or Taklobos extracted by Chinese fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal have been placed there by Filipino scientists, a maritime expert said.
Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP IMLOS), the UP Marine Science Institute seeded Taklobo shells in the late 1980s.
"Nakaimbento ng proseso sina Dr. (Edgardo) Gomez para mag-breed ng mga shell, mga giant clam shell kaya nung successful 'yon marami silang dinala doon binalik sa Scarborough," Batongbacal said in an interview with radio dzMM Friday.
CHINA’S MOST DESTRUCTIVE BOATS RETURN TO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
After a sharp drop-off in activity from 2016 to late 2018, Chinese clam harvesting fleets have returned to the South China Sea in force over the last six months. These fleets, which typically include dozens of small fishing vessels accompanied by a handful of larger “motherships,” destroy vast swaths of coral reef in order to extract endangered giant clams.
The clam shells are transported back to Hainan Province where they fetch thousands of dollars each in a thriving market for jewelry and statuary. Since late 2018, satellite imagery has shown these fleets operating frequently at Scarborough Shoal and throughout the Paracels, including at Bombay Reef.
7 fishers who exposed Chinese hunt for Scarborough clams go missing
Authorities on Tuesday flew over the West Philippine Sea in search of 7 fishermen, who last year raised the alarm on China's alleged mass pillaging of giant clams in the resource-rich waterway.
The crew of fishing boat Narem2 had been missing since Jan. 13, after they sent a radio message saying they would head home in fear of rough waves, said boat owner Kristine Macaraeg.
"Ang hirap mawalan ng pamilya... Ang sakit kasi itinuturing ko na silang pamilya ko," added Na-Rem2 co-owner Jacinto Gabriel.
(It's hard to lose family members. It's painful because I consider them my family.)
The Narem2 crew in April 2019 accompanied ABS-CBN News to Scarborough Shoal, where wooden trawlers bearing the Chinese flag extracted giant clams while the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly drove Filipino fishermen away.
The Philippine Coast Guard's aerial survey on Tuesday found 5 Chinese ships and a different fishing boat in Scarborough, but not Narem2.
"Hanggang kaya pa ay hahanapin namin sila. Naiintindihan namin iyong pangangailangan na makauwi sila sa kanilang pamilya," said PCG-Northwestern Luzon Commander Capt. Charlie Rances.
(We will search for them for as long as we can. We understand the need for them to return to their families.)
A United Nations-backed court in 2016 junked Beijing's "historic rights" to nearly 90 percent of the resource-rich waterway. However, the tribunal has no enforcement mechanism and China has refused to recognize the ruling.
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