Chinese trawlers dump sewage near Philippine reefs
The Philippine Defense Ministry said on Tuesday it had requested an investigation into the environmental impact of effluent discharged from Chinese state-backed fishing vessels, which have established an unwelcome presence inside the Philippine EEZ. of the Spratly Islands.
The statement follows a new report from U.S. geospatial intelligence firm Simularity, which used satellite imagery to identify telltale traces of green chlorophyll near suspected Chinese fishing vessels. Trails may indicate algae blooms caused by sewage discharge, according to Liz Derr, head of Simularity – and with the ships stationary, the impact on the local environment could be cumulative.
âWhen ships don’t move, shit just builds up,â Derr said in a recent presentation. “The hundreds of ships anchored in the Spratleys dump raw sewage onto the reefs they occupy.”
Derr claimed biodiversity on nearby reefs has declined due to an algal bloom, and she warned of impending disaster. “Damaging these reefs directly affects fish stocks throughout the South China Sea and can lead to a food crisis in coastal areas and a collapse of commercial fishing in the South China Sea,” she said in the presentation. .
The Philippine Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has pledged to work with defense and coastguard officials to verify the accuracy of Simularity’s report and determine whether the vessels in question are indeed Chinese. . “After that, we will seek the attention of the Chinese government through our[DepartmentofForeignAffairs”saidDENRBennyAntipordaUndersecretaryinapressrelease[DepartmentofForeignAffairsâsaidDENRUndersecretaryBennyAntipordainastatement[DÃ©partementdesAffairesÃ©trangÃ¨res”adÃ©clarÃ©lesous-secrÃ©taireduDENRBennyAntipordadansuncommuniquÃ©[DepartmentofForeignAffairs”saidDENRUndersecretaryBennyAntipordainastatement
The amount of effluent was previously estimated by Captain Carl Schuster (USN, retired), who suggested that these mid-size fishing boats each generate around 10 pounds of trash per day. For recent Chinese vessel counts at Union Banks, this would equate to about 2,400 pounds per day in total, or about 30 tons per month.
“China treating us like its toilet is a blatant violation of international and local environmental laws,” Philippine Senator Grace Poe said Tuesday. “If the laws of men are not enough, the basic laws of human decency demand that we not submit to this degrading treatment.”
China claims the overwhelming majority of the South China Sea, including Philippine-claimed segments of the Spratly Islands. In March, a flotilla of state-sponsored Chinese Maritime Militia ships deployed to the waters just off Whitsun Reef in the Union Banks area, anchoring by the hundreds in a position just offshore. After protests from the Philippine government, the large trawlers dispersed, but around 230 remain in Union Banks lagoon, according to Simularity.
The report coincides with the fifth anniversary of a pivotal decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled in favor of the Philippines and invalidated Chinese claims over the Philippine EEZ. China regards the decision as illegitimate “scrap paper” and continues to continue its maritime dominance in the region.