Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (ATMI), a Washington based think tank, has said the region is under threat from overfishing, dredging, island building and clam harvesting with China being a major culprit. 12 percent of the fish caught in the world comes from the South China Sea. As reported by The Philippine Star, Mr Poling told the ANC’s Headstart: “If fish stocks collapse there, it’s gonna hit fisherfolk everywhere in Southeast Asia.”
The vast region which sees one-third of international shipping pass through it has parts of the sea and islands within claimed by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Some of these nations have encouraged fishermen to fish in these waters.
Mr Poling argued: “The Chinese heavily subsidised fishers to go out to the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Vietnam does the same and even if parties wanted to do something about it, it’s impossible to enforce fishery rules out there.”
Mr Poling explained that it would be hard to control even if The Philippines passed a fishing ban due to lack of surveillance to monitor any illegal fishing.