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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Pag-asa Island cays observed in ‘degraded state’ — study

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A marine biologist on Saturday revealed Pag-asa Island cays, which are low islands or reefs, have been observed in a “degraded state” due to suspected island-building activities in the West Philippine Sea.

University of the Philippines Institute of Biology professor Jonathan Anticamara cited their marine resource assessment with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) conducted in March.

During which, the biologist noted “low coral and fish diversity and abundance.”

This manifested in fewer than 10 coral and fish species per 100 square meters transect, he said.

Moreover, most of the specimens surveyed were noted to be small.

Anticamara was part of a team that conducted a survey of Cays 1 to 4 in the WPS from March 20 to 23.

Anticamara also mentioned three cays having sand and rubble piles “atypical of naturally formed coral or sandy barrier islands, indicating that these are possibly product of island-building activities.”

He said the piles appeared manmade, with steeper slopes and coral rubble suggesting they were artificially transported there.

They were also white, indicating their formation less than a year ago.

“(You) can only see something like this if you go to a reclamation area,” Anticamara said

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela pointed to Chinese ships roaming the area as the possible culprit.

“There’s no other suspect that we can name with this kind of activities. It’s only the People’s Republic of China,” Tarriela said.

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