By Martin Sadongdong
The island-building activities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) in 2015 could potentially affect the marine ecosystem of the Philippines, even after several decades or centuries, according to a renowned marine biologist.
Kent Carpenter, in his presentation “Environmental Atrocities in the West Philippine Sea: The Science Behind Environmental Recourse” during the recent 39th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) at Manila Hotel, said the construction activities resulted in the destruction of 162 square kilometers of offshore reefs in the area which could affect the reef productivity throughout the region – including the adjacent Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
Carpenter, who also served as the environmental expert of the Philippine government in their case against China at The Hague, Netherlands, explained that large dredgers were used to drill the layers of living corals on Mischief Reef, located 250 kilometers west of Palawan Island, until they were crushed, smothered, and became sediments.
The dredgers then deposited the sediments mixed with some sand into a shallow part of the reef to become an island, which China claimed as part of its territory.
“The island drilling activities by destroying coral reefs are gonna reduce the amount of corals, fishes, and all the organisms that are associated with the coral reefs,” Carpenter said.
“It’s gonna prevent the marine life from living and their spawns or offsprings are not gonna be a potential source of recruitment for fish and corals in the inland waters of the Philippines,” he added.
Carpenter said that the island-building activities on West Philippine Sea started from March, 2015 until October,2015 and even after it stopped, island erosion continued to occur and spread several hundred meters to adjacent waters, thus, slowing the recuperation of coral reefs.
Tags: coral reefs, Dire environmental consequences of island-building in WPS highlighted, drilling, exclusive economic zone, Kent Carpenter, Manila Bulletin, marine ecosystem, The Hague, West Philippine Sea (WPS)