BFAR alarmed over massive damage in Scarborough Shoal corals

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2018 06:18 PM | Updated as of Jun 15 2018 07:16 PM

MANILA - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Friday expressed alarm over massive damage seen in corals in Scarborough Shoal in the disputed South China Sea. 

An ABS-CBN News report on Thursday showed images of crushed corals at the shoal, currently under Chinese control. Armando Morales, BFAR's station Head in Masinloc, Zambales, said this could significantly reduce fish production in the area.

“Yung ganung hitsura wala ka na mahuhuli dun, ultimo 'yung mga butas ng coral reef wala na, wala ka na mahuhuli dahil wala na ring pagkain 'yung mga isda dun,” he said.

(By the way it looks, there's no fish left there anymore. The holes in the coral reef are also gone. There is no fish left because there is no more food there.)

He said it would take at least half a century before the damaged corals could be replaced.

“Ang iba puwedeng tutubo kapag hindi gagalawin pero it will take 40 years bago tumubo, matatagalan bago manumbalik,” he said.

(Some might grow back if left alone but it will take 40 years before it grows back. It will take a long time.)

With the images he saw, Morales said there is a high possibility that it was caused by cyanide and dynamite fishing.

“Walang nagre-regulate ng mangingisda doon kaya ang mga illegal fishing mode nagagawa nila kagaya ng dynamite fishing,” he said.

(No one regulates fishermen there and that is why they can do any illegal fishing mode like dynamite fishing.)

BFAR said it was not certain who used dynamite in their fishing - whether its Chinese or Filipino fishermen - in the territory heavily guarded by the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard.

The agency earlier said it was inclined to send a research team to study damage on the shoal, which lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone off Zambales.