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In a statement released by Jay Batongbacal of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea in DZMM, said marine biologist Ed Gomez was able to invent a process to breed giant clams way back in the 1980s and started seeding the West Philippine Sea for giant clams. However, many years after – China’s fishing locusts swooped in whilst protected by Chinese government forces and harvested these giant clams as theirs.
China recklessly harvested giant clams destroying critical coral reef systems
We’ve seen the exclusive interview of ABS-CBN regarding the illegal harvesting of giant clams in the West Philippine Sea in this video below.
“Matira para diyan sa akin ay buhangin balang araw. Kasi araw araw ba naman silang kukuha diyan, huhukayin nila. Mga bagong tinubo na Pilipino wala na silang madatdatnan dito balang araw.,” Romulo Etac (Filipino fisherman).
It’s really sad that the Philippine government under the Duterte administration isn’t doing that much to protect these illegal poaching which is happening right in our own front yard. Right in the West Philippine Sea. Though surprisingly after several years they seemed to have been a bit tougher against China by issuing verbal protests against the clam poaching however maintaining the same defeatist stance to the point of downplaying the incident as useless ‘clam-defending’.
In contrast, the former administration under President Aquino filed diplomatic protests against China based on a Philippine Coast Guard report that at least 24 Chinese utility boats were seen collecting giant clams in the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc back in 2015.
“I am not going down in history as a clam defender, okay? -DFA Teddy Locsin
According to the Aquino administration. China’s toleration of, and active support for, the environmentally harmful fishing practices by its nationals at Bajo de Masinloc constitute breaches of its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Which was also re-affirmed in the recent UN Arbitration victory where it said that China’s illegal poaching within Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone is a direct violation to relevant International maritime laws. But China is just not buying it.
So what do giant clams contributes to the marine ecosystem?
Giant clams are called “reef builders” because they produce “80 tonnes of carbonate shell material per hectare” each year. These materials provide the housing for soft corals, sponges, sea squirts and large algae.
“They contribute to reef build-up by providing higher relief and structures in coral reefs,”
Giant clams also provide a habitat for young fishes such as pearlfishes and anemone fishes against predators and serve as a refuge for numerous fish eggs deposited by adults. Moreover, they help make the ocean clean since they are known to filter feeders or organisms who obtain their food source by filtering organic matter or fine particulates like phytoplankton, zooplankton, and detritus from the water.
“Giant clams potentially counteract eutrophication (nutrient enrichment that typically leads to algal overgrowth) via water filtering and nutrient sequestration. Therefore, they help maintain tolerable/ optimal water conditions for reef organisms,”
Giant clams are also a healthy source of nutrients for eels, snails, fishes, and starfishes who rely on the mollusk for their dietary needs.
“..Giant clam tissues and discharges are food for a wide array of marine organisms (e.g. mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, flatworms, and fishes). Hence, their loss means reduced food sources for organisms that depend on them also serving as nurseries for fish, serving as refuges for juveniles escaping predators, and the shell ridges provide privacy for adults laying eggs..”
So in totality – these giant clams serve a significant purpose in the marine ecosystem and must be protected from illegal poaching. However, the Philippine government DFA Secretary simply called them merely as ”f**king food” and it makes no sense going to war on just clams. But clearly — Locsin is really not understanding the consequence of losing those clams.
China’s unscrupulous methods of harvesting those clams using their boat engines to pull them off dragging the clam out beneath the soil destroying nearby coral-reef systems at such a rapid rate which is feared to cause massive amounts of marine life ultimately dying due to destruction of their habitats and then will result in lesser fish catch for the Filipino fishermen.
We’ve known about this BBC News documented this years ago and also the Philippine government issued a diplomatic protest against China about this. However, the Philippine government’s ignorance about this pressing issue makes us all wonder as to what they’ve been doing all along with their bloated intelligence budget and inflated coast guard expenditures.
So China’s been going on this massive clam-harvesting operation right now yet remained unchecked by the Philippine government? You can find the video below.
According to one Chinese netizen who released us a copy of the stockpiles of dead giant clams that Chinese clam-harvest slowed down in 2015 at the height of the Aquino administration’s drive to legally challenged China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration and use diplomatic pressures to slowly push Beijing out of the West Philippine Sea. Unfortunately, this is short-lived as a Chinese puppet has since been installed in Malacañang allowing China to influence Philippine politics feeding them with onerous loan deals to benefit Chinese businessmen and hire Chinese workers at the grave disadvantage to the locals.
Protecting the giant-clams within our own EEZ is protecting the environment and our economic interests
In my previous blog posts. I shared how China’s relentless island building spree in the West Philippine Sea has caused so much damage in the coral reef systems nearby and how such actions directly influence the lesser amount of fish-catch our fishing vessels were able to harvest than before. This is a serious issue which affects our economy as a whole since the West Philippine Sea is supposed to be a rich fishing grounds for Filipinos and this where we’re harvesting large amounts of marine life. But now reduced to only several kilos.
But DFA Locsin didn’t really care one bit and even the sudden tough-talking jest of Malacanang against China which is so timely for the May 2019 elections is pretty unnerving. I could never fathom the sheer hypocrisy and shameless candor of this incumbent administration. Using a large number of propaganda machines online as well as troll armies. They’re able to sway public opinions in their favor and manipulate a large portion of the populace to engage and spread the contagion.
I don’t know what you think but I sincerely believe that Duterte’s governance is no longer independent leadership of the country but rather Chinese controlled. Until the Filipino people learn it the hard way and began to feel the prick of having these bastards in the highest office of the land then we can slowly begin to realize our mistakes and instead get to speak up more loudly than ever to condemn this inept and dysfunctional government.