Dwindling resources in the SCS

Filipino fisherfolk lose a lot due to massive Chinese poaching of fishes in Philippine territorial waters. In the past six decades, fish stocks in the South China Sea steadily dwindled due to overfishing.

A 2015 study revealed that fish stocks in certain parts of the SCS declined by as much as 90%. High-value fishes, like tuna and grouper, are becoming scarcer. Fishermen are compelled to sail farther and longer to catch fish. As a result, the catch of Filipino fishermen continues to decline. From 2005 to 2014, this declined by 13.5%, and further slipped by 4.3% in 2015-2016.

Filipino fishermen suffer are at a disadvantage with their relatively smaller vessels, high costs of transportation (which spiralled due to the TRAIN law) and lack of government support. This is in contrast to the Chinese government’s high fuel, wage and vessel subsidy for their fishermen which enable them to fish farther and longer. China has the largest distant water fishing fleet (2,500 vessels) which engages in far-ranging and long fishing operations. The Filipino fishers are further disadvantaged by the lack of security even within the country’s exclusive economic zone and traditional fishing grounds.

Sale of resources

The Center for Environmental Concerns and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment estimate that Duterte has sold at least P773-billion worth of Philippine sovereign mineral, water, wildlife, and marine resources to foreigners in the past three years.

China destroyed reefs worth P99 billion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) due to constant patrols of Chinese paramilitary vessels. In addition, around P150-billion worth of endangered flora and fauna have been poached and smuggled out of the country.

Moreover, P23-billion worth of land and waters were promised as sovereign guarantee by Duterte should the country default on its onerous loans with China for the Kaliwa Dam and Chico River Pump Irrigation projects. In general, the country’s biggest loss is due to the massive operations of multinational mining companies which exported more than P501.4-billion worth of mineral resources in the same period.