Corals, cays in Pag-asa Island now degraded, UP biologist says

Corals, cays in Pag-asa Island now degraded, UP biologist says

By: - Reporter / @luisacabatoINQ
/ 04:22 PM May 04, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The corals and cays, the small islands atop coral reefs, on Pag-asa Island are now in a degraded state, an expert from the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology said.

“Many of the corals here in this island, at Pag-asa Island itself, and the cay are now degraded,” Professor Jonathan Anticamara said as he reported the findings of their marine resource assessment with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and National Fisheries Research and Development Institute last March.

READ: China claims sovereignty over Pagasa Island; accuses PH of encroachment


“Many of the corals are now small; many of the large corals are now dead, and there are not a lot of live corals in the area,” he added.


The professor also said there were not many fish in the area, and those that they found were only small ones.

“My assessment, based on my experiences with the rest of the reef in the Philippines, is that the Pag-asa coral reefs, the cay, the Pag-asa Island itself have coral reefs that are now experiencing either a decline or degradation of overfishing and the habitat itself is not in a good condition,” Anticamara said.

READ: Palawan gov pays ‘symbolic’ visit to Pag-asa Island

He noted that while coral reefs in other parts of the country also experience degradation, the case in Pag-asa Island is noteworthy since it is far from the mainland and not frequently visited by fishermen.

Moreover, Anticamara also said that piles of sand and rubble were observed on four cays on Pag-asa Island.


These, according to him, could be man-made.

“The Pag-asa Cay 2, the pile of rubble, is over the height of a person. I don’t know if you can go around the Philippines and find an Island that’s formed by nature, a typhoon, or a current that will form that high,” he explained.

While it is not yet 100 percent certain that the piles of rubble were man-made, the government must still be vigilant, he said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela, who was also in the forum, accused China of being responsible for the damage.

“Kung itong occurrence na ito ay hindi natural, hindi normal, sino ang nagtambak nito? Diba? Well, we have the same suspect na naiisip niyo, and I think it is also the same suspect that I have on my head. There’s no other that we can name with these kind of activities, it’s only the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

(If this occurrence isn’t natural or normal, who’s responsible for it? Right? Well, we have the same suspect in mind, and I think it’s also the same one that I have on my mind. There’s no one else we can attribute these activities to but the People’s Republic of China.)

He noted that only the Philippines and China are near the four cays, and the former has “obviously” no means to destroy corals.

READ: Military chief inspects Kalayaan Island in Spratlys

“It is only the People’s Republic of China who has a professional record ng ganitong gawain sa South China Sea,” said Tarriela.

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(Only the People’s Republic of China has a professional record of such activities in the South China Sea.)

He added that the researchers from UP and BFAR were “harassed” by the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia during their research.

TAGS: corals, Pag-Asa Island

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