Not only Iroquois Reef but also Sabina Shoal showed signs of marine destruction by Chinese militia vessels, according to the Philippine Coast Guard today, as part of its confirmation of the information released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding ongoing coral harvesting in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement released by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday morning, they expressed their support for the statement made on Saturday by Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, suspecting that coral harvesting is taking place at the two locations where the presence of Chinese ships recently resurge.
The PCG said that during a “covert mission” conducted from August 9 to September 11 this year, they monitor the presence of 33 Chinese maritime militia vessels at Iroquois (Rozul) Reef and 15 at Sabina (Escoda) Shoal.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) affirmed that the precision of this data received further validation through a recent maritime patrol carried out by BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) and BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) in the past few weeks.
“The PCG undertook an extensive underwater survey of the seabed in both Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal during the covert operations. The results of this survey were deeply concerning, as the marine ecosystem appeared lifeless, with minimal to no signs of any life forms,” the PCG’s statement said.
It appears that the natural topography of the underwater terrain in Sabina has been intentionally altered, as evidenced by the visible discoloration of the seabed.
The presence of crushed corals strongly implies a possible act of dumping, possibly involving the same dead corals that were previously processed and cleaned before being returned to the seabed, according to the PCG.
While the PCG makes this statement, there is no clear explanation as to why recently processed and cleaned dead corals are being returned to the seabed at Iroquois and Sabina.
The PCG emphasized the significance of preserving and safeguarding the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) due to the reliance of many Filipino fishermen on its resources.
If Chinese militia vessels continue to damage it, it will undoubtedly result in an ecological catastrophe.
“While the PCG’s observations may require additional scientific analysis for validation, it is of utmost importance that all coast guard organizations and maritime law enforcement agencies in the region prioritize their dedication to protecting and preserving marine ecosystems,” ayon pa sa PCG.
The PCG stated that this involves more than just enforcing maritime regulations; it also involves advocating for practices that support the health of oceans and the conservation of marine biodiversity.