China’s reclamations to cause fishery crisis, scientist warns

CORON, Palawan (MindaNews / 14 June) — National scientist Dr. Angel Alcala warned that the ongoing Chinese reclamation and construction along the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea will bring long term damage to the entire ecosystem.

“The ongoing destruction of coral reefs along the shoals and islands where the Chinese are doing their reclamation project and construction of structures and airstrip will start a slow decline on fish catch and a ripple effect that will affect fisheries not only in the Philippines but other South East Asian countries, leading to a fishery crisis,” he said.

Alcala, who spoke on the management of marine reserves during the “Writing for Survival: Media for Marine Conservation,” on Thursday warned that an impending crisis would be massive, as it will affect not only fish catch but also the entire balance of the marine eco-system.

“The effect will cause a sudden change in the natural circulation of water. This will also affect the movement and distribution of propagules. This will then spread far and wide; nutrients from the area will diminish affecting fish stock and other aquatic creatures,” he said.

Alcala pointed to several studies indicating the decline in the abundance of fish in the Spratlys since 2005 due to the increase in fishing activity and that the massive reclamation along the atolls and shoals in the area will only make the problem worst.

He said he hopes more scientific research could be done on the effects to our ocean and marine ecosystem.

Alcala also made a message to other scientist’s in the hopes to bring in more calls to stop the destruction of the atolls.

“Chinese scientists should also step in and ask their government to stop its activity that is destroying the rich coral reefs in the area because once the damage is done it will not only affect the Philippines but China as well,” he added.

Dr. Nygiel Armada, deputy chief of party with ecosystem improvement for sustainable fisheries project of the USAID agreed with the statement of Alcala on the impact of the Chinese project.

“Protecting the coral reefs in the area is the best way to go, we are already behind in the number of marine protected areas that should be established and this destruction will push the decline of fish biomass as the marine ecosystem will be altered,” said Armada. (Erwin Mascarinas / MindaNews)