An oceanologist has warned that China’s creation of artificial islands and overfishing by all countries are severely threatening the South China Seas rich fish stocks.
John McManus of the University of Miami told the Philippine newspaper the Inquirer that Manila and Beijing should set aside their territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal and declare it a ”peace park” to preserve the marine environment.
If China were to create yet another man-made island on Scarborough, it would result in the irreplaceable loss of one of the world’s most beautiful and productive coral reefs, said McManus, a professor of marine biology and fisheries and director of the National Center for Coral Reef Research at Miami’s Rosenstiel School.
”Scarborough reef is in a critical stage. If China builds (an island) there, it’s going to be a horrible waste.
This is probably the most beautiful reef in the world,” McManus was quoted as saying.
China seized the shoal in 2012 after a two-month standoff with the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard and has prevented Filipino fishermen from reaching their traditional fishery inside the shoal’s lagoon, despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling that the shoal should be a shared fishing ground
The Philippine coast guard has sighted Chinese barges at Scarborough which could presage the transformation of the Chinese-held reef into another man-made island. One of the Chinese vessels had what appeared to be a crane, according to a Philippine official who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss classified intelligence.
McManus said the South China Sea marine environment has already deteriorated to an alarming degree, with certain fish species threatened with extinction.