‘Worse than invasion’: Group warns of fish shortage due to overfishing in PH waters

Published April 15, 2021, 11:58 AM

by Noreen Jazul

A grassroots environmental group has warned of a potential fish shortage in the country due to overfishing by Chinese fishermen in Philippine waters.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 31, 2021 this handout photo from the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) via the Philippine Communications Operations Office (PCOO) shows Chinese vessels anchored at Whitsun Reef, some 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of Palawan Island in the West Philippine Sea.
(Photo by Handout / various sources / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The Chinese fishermen have been overfishing, depleting our marine resources,” Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization (HERO) said in a statement.

“They even sell their catch to our fishermen at a higher price,” the group added.

HERO, quoting the National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), also said about 240,000 kilos of fish are being illegally taken from Philippine waters every single day “that the massed Chinese fishing vessels remain in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).”

“This is actually worse than invasion. Wala ng makakain ang mga mangingisda natin. Gutom ang aabutin nila ng dahil sa mga Chinese (Our fishermen no longer have food to eat. They will end up hungry because of the Chinese fishermen),” warned Villardo “Billy” C. Abueme, president of HERO.

Abueme called on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to investigate China’s overfishing in WPS.

The NTF-WPS on Wednesday said there are 240 Chinese ships spread throughout the WPS.

Out of the 240, 136 were spotted at Burgos Reef (Gaven Reef), nine at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), 65 at Chigua Reef (McKennan Reef), six at Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), three at Zamora Reef (Subi Reef), four at Pag-asa Islands (Thitu Islands), one at Likas Island (West York Island), five at Kota Island (Loaita Island), and 11 at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).