BFAR: West Philippine Sea an important fishing ground

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2021 10:18 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2021 10:45 PM

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The West Philippine Sea is an important fishing ground where thousands of Filipinos depend for their livelihood, an official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said Monday, amid the presence of Chinese vessels in the area. 

The West Philippine Sea yields some 24,300 metric tons of fishery capture that represents 7.36 percent of marine catch nationwide. Most of this goes to Metro Manila, said BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongon. 

"Totoong malaki ang kahalagahan ng West Philippine Sea bilang isang lugar pangisdaan para sa libo-libo nating mangingisdang Pilipino. Dapat lamang na atin itong pagyamanin at bigyang-proteksyon sa anumang gawaing sumisira ng likas na yaman nito," he said in a press briefing. 

"Ang anuman pong pagkasira nito ay makakaapekto sa ibang bahagi ng ating karagatan at maging sa karagatan ng ibang bansa dahil dapat nating tandaan, ang ating karagatan o katubigan ay magkaka-ugnay." 

(The importance of the West Philippine Sea as a fishing ground for thousands of Filipino fishers is great. We should enrich and protect it from any activity that destroys its natural resources. Whatever destruction here will affect other parts of our sea, and even the seas of other countries because these are interconnected.)
 
The BFAR is studying the impact of some 240 Chinese ships that recently swarmed the West Philippine Sea. The bureau is also joining a drill in the area, he said. 

Beijing refuses to recognize a 2016 ruling by a United Nations-backed court that invalidated its "historical" claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week said he would only deploy military ships should China go after oil and mineral resources in the waterway.