One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse


Major disputes in the South China Sea are putting critical habitat—and the food supply of millions—at risk.

PUERTO PRINCESA, PHILIPPINESOne time Christopher Tubo caught a 660-pound blue marlin in the South China Sea. That was years ago, when the fishing there was good, he says. He would come home from a trip with dozens of valuable fish like tuna and a haul of other species.

“Here there’s none of that,” he says, looking toward the Sulu Sea, the Philippine sea where he’s been fishing for the past four years. His two boats, traditional Filipino outriggers called bancas, float in the shallow water nearby, new coats of white paint on the decks, drying in the sun.

Tubo sits on a wooden bench in front of his home, which is perched on stilts above the bay. One of his four kids wraps an arm around his leg. Worn T-shirts and shorts flutter on clotheslines behind them.

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