For some Filipino fishermen, the South China Sea dispute is personal


When nations duel over reefs, rocks and islets, people are going to get hurt, and in the South China Sea dispute, that means the fishermen here who once wrested a living from the contested waters.

Gunmen in a Chinese speedboat drove Macario Forones, for instance, away from a favorite spot called Scarborough Shoal, and now his boat, the Marvin-1, sits useless in the grass and weeds above the high-tide line, and he sells someone else’s fish from a stall in the local market. Efrim Forones now dives for clams in the bay, making about one-tenth of what he earned when he fished the sea. Viany Mula says he was set upon with a Chinese water cannon when he ventured out to the shoal in his boat, and now he makes deliveries around town on a motorbike, barely earning enough each day, as he puts it, to buy the rice he needs.

“I really want to fish the shoal,” Mula said one recent day. “It’s a very rich fishing ground. But that’s not possible now.”

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