Illegal reclamations in West Philippine Sea cause coral reefs destruction, economic loss of US$100-M annually

MANILA, April 15 — The unabated, heightened reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea is doing more harm and damage to the coral reefs and marine life in the area. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, these activities already destroyed some 300 hectares of coral reef systems with estimated economic loss from such destruction will reach US$ 100 million annually.

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The DFA reported China’s “massive” reclamation activities are causing “irreversible and widespread damage” to biodiversity and ecological balance in West Philippine Sea. It noted tnat China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding peoples in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations.

Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) knowledge specialist Jerika Velasco noted reclamation poses a threat to coral reefs as this alters natural conditions essential for these ecosystems’ health and survival. Even if only part of a reef is affected by reclamation, she said there’s no guarantee this ecosystem will recover and heal fast enough.

“Reclamation prevents sunlight from reaching the reefs and even changes flow of current in those areas, both conditions spell disaster for reefs and the marine life these support,” Velasco noted.

[flexiblemap address=”Scarborough Shoal, Zambales, Philippines” region=”ph” directions=”true” width=”100%” height=”250px” zoom=”10″ ]
 

Velasco warned reclamation materials dumped in marine waters can block coral spores’ dispersal to nearby areas, preventing these from developing and eventually forming natural reefs.

Among reported Chinese reclamation activities in the area are creation of artificial islets atop reefs to which Velasco sees zero chance for survival of reefs

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