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Filipino scientists seeded giant clams poached by Chinese, says maritime expert

/ 10:55 PM April 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A maritime expert said the giant clams that were harvested by Chinese fishermen in the Scarborough Shoal are a product of a seeding process done by Filipino scientists almost four decades ago.

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Dr. Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, a team from UP’s Maritime Science Institute (MSI) placed the giant clams, or “taklobo”, in the Scarborough Shoal in the late 1980s.

1980s seeding project

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“Galing yan sa atin dahil ito nga pong Marine Science Institute, nung mga 1980’s…parang nag-seed sila ng mga taklobo shells diyan kasi nga endangered species ito,” Batongbacal said in an interview over dzMM on Friday.

“Nakaimbento po ng proseso sila Dr. (Edgardo) Gomez para mag-breed ng mga shell, mga giant clam shells kaya nung successful yun, maraming silang dinala dun, binalik sa Scraborough,” he added.

Preserving coral reefs

Batongbacal underscored the importance of these taklobos to reef building, adding that these clams also help maintain coral reefs.

“Alam naman natin yung mga coral reef ay yan ay mga tirahan po yan ng mga pangisdaan natin, lahat po ng masasarap na isda natin ay galing diyan sa sa area na yan,” he said.

“Dahil sila kumbaga ay parang ay nakaka-aattract nitong mga reef building ng mga species no, nagiging pundasyon din siya kasi tunutubuan din mismo yung mga shell nila ng polyps ng coral din, tapos yung pag nanganganak sila eh, pag sila’y nanganganak eh parang iniispread din nila yung mga larva dito sa area ng iba pang mga isda,” he added.

Double whammy

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He also noted how the Chinese fisherman are not only poaching these clams but are also ruining the coral reefs in the process.

“Kaya kung mawala po yung taklobo, ay masisira, maaaring hindi na magtagal ang ating coral reef at ang hirap nga po ngayon ang sama nung ginagawa ng mga Chinese eh hinuhukay pa nila yung mga coral reef, sinisira po nila yun para makuha itong mga taklobo na ito,” Batongbacal said.

Further, he said the shells of these giant clams, which can retail for up to P25,000 each, are used in wood carvings and jewelry.

“Wawasakin nila tong coral reef e di parang napapatag tuloy yung dagat tapos yung mga taklobong nakuha nila, actually pinapatay po nila eh, hindi man lang nila inuuwi yun para kainin, tinatapon lang nila yung laman kasi yung habol nila eh itong mga shell,” he said.

“Taklobo” shell trade

“Merong trade talaga na iyung shell ng taklobo ang ginagamit sa carvings and jewelry, and libo libong dolyares po ang halaga ng bentahan sa China ng mga ganyan,” he added.

With this, Batongbacal urged the Philippine government to raise this issue and expose the poaching activities of these Chinese fishermen for the damage they have caused.

“Dapat talagang i-raise yan at kumbaga i-expose yang activity na yan dahil dito lang nangyari yan sa area natin sa South China Sea at Chinese fishermen lang talaga ang gumagawa niyan,” he said.

Get out

Batongbacal said the government should also demand that pullout of fishing vessels used in the poaching activities.

“Ang minimum demand natin is i-withdraw nila yung kanilang mga fishing vessel diyan na kumukuha nga ng taklobo, kasi talagang winawasak nila yung kung ano yung pinaguusapan natin,” he said.

“Kahit anong mangyari tuloy sa usapan natin eh wala talaga tayong makukuha sa kinabukasan dahil inubos na nila, sinira na nila,” he added.

DFA’s move

Early last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had filed a diplomatic note to China regarding the issue and warned of legal action for its alleged violation of “conventions on environmental protection.”

READ: Philippines ‘taking legal action’ vs China over Scarborough clams 

 

 

“We just caught them doing that recently, filed a diplomatic note, and will be taking legal action. With our legal department now,” Locsin said in a tweet. /gsg

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TAGS: Chinese, DFA, Dr. Jay Batongbacal, Fishermen, latest news, Locsin, Scarborough shoal, taklobo, UP
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