Chinese Fishing Vessels Pumping Cyanide Into Contested Waters: Philippines

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Philippines has accused Chinese fishing vessels of using cyanide to destroy the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. According to spokesperson Nazario Briguera, Chinese fishermen are using cyanide to intentionally destroy the fish-rich atoll, making it difficult for Filipino fishing boats to operate in the area. The bureau estimated damages to the region to be around $17,850,000 due to the alleged use of cyanide, although they have not conducted a formal study of the total damage.

Cyanide fishing involves dumping highly toxic chemicals near coral reefs or fishing grounds to stun or kill fish for easy capture, a practice widely condemned because of its detrimental effects on marine species and ecosystems.

The Philippines accused Chinese coast guards of using dangerous tactics to harass and block Filipino ships, despite the lack of scientific evidence linking Chinese fishermen to the use of cyanide in the area. The Scarborough Shoal is a contested area, claimed by China, Taiwan, and the Philippines, and has seen increasing tensions due to territorial disputes. Beijing has established de facto control of the atoll, patrolling the region with warships and coast guard vessels, and often chasing out Philippine fishermen.

Furthermore, fishing groups have reported an influx of hundreds of Chinese vessels entering the region and overfishing its waters, leading to the degradation of the atoll’s ecosystem. Researchers have even claimed that the destruction caused by Chinese vessels is visible on Google Earth.

The Chinese embassy in Manila and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources did not immediately respond to requests for comments from Business Insider.

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