FILE — Chinese fishermen harvesting giant clams in Scarborough Shoal destroyed coral reefs in the process.
CSIS/AMTI via DigitalGlobe
Filipino scientists planted Scarborough clams harvested by Chinese — expert
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - April 26, 2019 - 3:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The giant clams or Taklobos extracted by Chinese fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal have been placed there by Filipino scientists, a maritime expert said.

Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP IMLOS), the UP Marine Science Institute seeded Taklobo shells in the late 1980s.

"Nakaimbento ng proseso sina Dr. (Edgardo) Gomez para mag-breed ng mga shell, mga giant clam shell kaya nung successful 'yon marami silang dinala doon binalik sa Scarborough," Batongbacal said in an interview with radio dzMM Friday.

The maritime expert also noted that the Chinese vessels are killing the giant clams and are only after the shells.

According to Batongbacal, the Chinese are using the shells as a substitute for ivory in carving and jewelry.

"Kaya nga po nagulat tayo nung 2012, kahit si Prof. Gomez ng MSI, nung una akala niya ginagamit 'yung mga shell para lang pantambak pero 'yun pala meron trade talaga 'yung shell na Taklobo ang ginagamit sa carving and libu-libong dolyares po ang halaga ng bentahan sa China ng mga ganyan," Batongbacal said.

Each giant shell is estimated to be worth at least P25,000, according to the maritime expert.

China's activitiy of extracting giant clams from Scarborough Shoal damages the ecosystem in the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.

"Kung mawala po ang Taklobo ay masisira at maaaring hindi na magtagal ang ating coral reef at mahirap nga po ngayon ang sama ng ginagawa ng mga Chinese. Hinuhukay pa nila 'yung mga coral reef, sinisira po nila 'yun para makuha itong mga Taklobo na ito," the professor said.

The Philippine government should definitely raise the activity of Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea as it appears that they are the only ones harvesting giant clams from the area.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier called out China's continuous extraction of giant clams in Scarborough Shoal, pointing out that it violates Philippine sovereignty.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said his department will be taking legal action into the activities of the Chinese in the area.

GIANT CLAMS JAY BATONGBACAL SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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