PAMALAKAYA demands urgent removal of Chinese dredger in Zambales
Manila, Philippines — The national fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Saturday called for urgent removal of a Chinese dredging vessel that ran aground off the coast of Botolan, Zambales since last week, as small fishers have been lamenting the decrease of catch due to the presence of the dredger and another two Chinese vessels.
“Small fishers in Zambales decry the impact of the presence of Chinese vessels to their fishing activities. Since their arrival, fish catch dwindled. It should be removed immediately and hold the vessel owner accountable over its negligence to prevent the dredger from beaching on the fishing grounds of Filipino fishers,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA also wants probe on the continuous dredging activity of China in the Philippine waters, warning of its potential impact to the marine ecosystem and livelihood of small fisherfolk.
“Dredging-related stressors such as movement of solid particles, discharging toxic contaminants, and noise pollution effectively disrupt the movement of fish species and various marine lives. In the long run, it will adversely affect the fish catch of fishers who are already enduring the fish catch depletion over the past decades due to environmental degradation. The continuous dredging activity of China is not only an environmental concern, but also an issue of socio-economic and national patrimony. It is mind-boggling that the national and local government units are silent about this,” added Hicap.
Moreover, the fisherfolk group warned that the dredging activity could be a “precursor” to China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in Scarborough Shoal (locally known as Panatag Shoal) located 124 nautical miles off the province of Zambales.
“Chinese dredging and reclamation in any part of our waters have to stop as it threatens our marine environment, livelihood and most of all, national sovereignty. We likewise denounce the Duterte government for keeping mum and tolerating this apparent direct foreign invasion and plunder of our territory,” ended Hicap. ###