With the Chinese fishing vessels massed in the West Philippine Sea reportedly taking more than 260 tons of fish daily from our waters, the Philippines is in danger of facing a fish shortage.
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 HERO president Villardo Abuerne.
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. They have also been driven away from the contested shoal by Chinese coast guard and militia fishing vessels.
“This is actually worse than invasion,” Abuerne said.
The latest sovereignty patrols conducted by the NTF-WPS last April 11 showed an estimated 240 Chinese vessels spread throughout the West Philippine Sea. Diplomatic protests have been filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs but not much has been done by our government to safeguard our resources and protect our fishermen as far as the massive illegal fishing activities are concerned.
While the Philippines continues to exhibit its nonchalant weakness towards the Chinese exploitation of our resources that has come with their aggressive expansion into what is rightfully our territory, it is the Filipinos who are losing out.
Something has to be done about a neighbor that takes our territory by illegally building islands while taking our fish and even driving our fishermen away. If the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources cannot do anything to protect the interests of Filipino fisheries, is there a government agency that is going to stand up for this country?*