MANILA, Philippines — Instead engaging in military posturing to press maritime claims, a defense and security expert suggested all claimant states should agree to declare the entire South China Sea as a global common.
Clarita Carlos, a political science and foreign policy professor of the University of the Philippines, said claimant states should also talk about regional fishing agreements.
Carlos, also a climate advocate, pointed out that the so-called coral triangle spanning from the Philippines towards Indonesia should be everybody’s concern.
Instead of drawing ownership lines, Carlos said claimant-states should have an agreement not to further destroy the fish habitat in the region.
“Why not shift from this Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea and instead talk about regional fishing agreement?” Carlos told a forum sponsored by the Association for Philippine-China Understanding at the Astoria Plaza in Pasig City on Wednesday.
She said that entering to a regional fishing agreement is a functional route towards regional cooperation without necessarily involving other non-players in the maritime row.
In so doing, all claimant-states will focus their efforts on protecting and securing century-old corals and reefs from additional destruction, man-made or otherwise.
“Let us go environmental. Let’s make this as a biodiversity issue and let’s include survival of humanity issue. Let’s include China,” Carlos said.
For now, the reef and corals in the region are important as these maritime features are considered as one of the best marine biodiversity areas in the whole world, she said.
Aside from being the sanctuary and spawning areas of fishes, Carlos said they are also the source of nitrogen and marine food for fish.
Climate change has already taken its toll on the reefs and corals and the destruction was further aggravated by China’s building of man-made islands in the region.