Destructive Chinese clam-harvesting fleets return to WPS

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), designed by US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in a report that “after a sharp drop-off in activity from 2016 to late 2018, Chinese clam-harvesting fleets have returned to the South China Sea in force over the last six months.”

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative-Center for Strategic and International Studies, MAXAR

AMTI says that these fleets destroy vast swaths of coral reef in order to extract endangered giant clams. These fleet typically include dozens of small fishing vessels accompanied by a handful of larger “motherships”.

“Since late 2018, satellite imagery has shown these fleets operating frequently at Scarborough Shoal and throughout the Paracels, including at Bombay Reef,” AMTI said.

AMTI noted that Scarborough Shoal was already extensively damaged by the earlier phase of clam harvesting up to 2016. “But imagery from December 2018 reveals the return of a large number of clam boats,” it added.

“And as at Bombay Reef, it is clear that Chinese authorities are aware of and condoning these environmentally destructive practices. The China Coast Guard maintains a constant presence at Scarborough and was filmed by ABS-CBN visiting the clam harvesting vessels,” AMTI said.