FIRING LINE by Robert B. Roque, Jr.


P33-B damage yearly

Due to China’s continued reclamation and unlawful fishing activities, our country loses a staggering cost of P33.1 billion yearly from the damaged reef ecosystems on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and the Spratly Islands.

More shocking was the statement that the figure was merely a conservative estimate, as revealed by Deo Florence Onda, a scientist from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI).

The amount of losses and damage was allegedly concluded by using the baseline value of $353,429 (P18 million) per hectare per year for coral reefs. The computation was reached in a study performed by a Dutch information and analytics company.

Elsevier, one of the world’s foremost providers of medical, scientific and technical information, conducted the study, “Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary value” in 2012.

There were around 550 hectares of damaged reef ecosystems on Panatag and some 1,3000 hectares on the Spratly Islands, according to satellite images.

The mass harvest of giant clams by Chinese fishers and the reclamation of their government to construct seven artificial islands were supposed to be blamed for the most severe damage.

Onda revealed that the decline in the production of the Philippines’ fisheries would persist and could pose a threat to our food security if these illicit activities would continue.

The country’s different ecosystems are interconnected, Onda said, and it would be ill-advised if we were to train our sights on merely one.

It was his reaction to a comment made by Supreme Court Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. earlier that the government did not have the resources to guard all the country’s shoals. As an alternative, he suggested that the money be spent on rehabilitating the Pasig River.

This is not a bad idea altogether since the river has been reeking with pollution the past decades but should merely be part of the government’s clean-up list.

Onda said we need to comprehend the entire ecosystem since there is a secure connection between the land and the seas. If we fail to protect one, the other will be affected.

Matters involving the environment and natural resources should allegedly not be categorized since many Filipinos depend on these ecosystems for food and livelihood.

Meanwhile, maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said the Chinese fishermen would most likely drain our marine resources in just a few years if they would not be prevented from fishing in our waters. Scarborough Shoal could be eradicated in five years since the Chinese poachers also destroy the reefs.

*              *              *


SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here