Philippines Considers Lawsuit for Cyanide Fishing at Scarborough Shoal

Philippines Could Sue China Over Cyanide Fishing—President

The President of the Philippines has stated that his administration will pursue legal action if sufficient evidence of cyanide fishing is found at Scarborough Shoal, a contentious fishing area in the South China Sea.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as cited by the country’s official news agency, emphasized on Tuesday that evidence strongly suggests the occurrence of cyanide fishing, following a statement from the Philippine fisheries industry blaming Chinese fishermen for the practice.

Initially developed for capturing live fish for aquariums, cyanide fishing has become a common method utilized by various fishing communities, including those in the Philippines, for catching seafood. Allegations suggest the use of cyanide at Scarborough Shoal, which China gained effective control of in 2012, with the Chinese coast guard frequently expelling Philippine fishermen found in the area.

Nazario Briguera, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Southeast Asia, expressed the belief that the practice is deliberate, aiming to cause significant ecological damage to deter Philippine nationals from fishing in the area.

Briguera estimated that the alleged cyanide use may have already caused over $17.8 million in damages to the ecosystem.

Philippines Considers Lawsuit for Cyanide Fishing at Scarborough Shoal
Philippines Considers Lawsuit for Cyanide Fishing at Scarborough Shoal (Credits: BNN Breaking)

Responding to the accusations during Monday’s daily press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning dismissed the claims as baseless, asserting China’s indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its surrounding waters. Mao emphasized China’s commitment to environmental protection and its stance against fishing activities that violate laws and regulations.

The Philippines claims that the livelihoods of around 385,000 Filipinos rely on seafood harvests within the country’s exclusive economic zone, extending 200 nautical miles from the coastline, where it holds sole rights to natural resources according to international maritime law.

According to Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela, there is currently no evidence linking the cyanide use to either Chinese or Vietnamese-flagged vessels, although fishermen from both countries, like those from the Philippines, traditionally operate in the shoal.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources informed Newsweek on Tuesday that the allegation is based on the testimonies of local fishermen. An investigation directed by the country’s security council is underway.

Should the investigation lead to sufficient evidence, it would not be the first time the Philippines has resorted to legal avenues to address disputes. In 2013, the country brought its territorial dispute with China before an international arbitral tribunal, resulting in a largely favorable ruling for Manila, though China rejected the decision.

Last September, the Philippine government announced its intention to pursue legal action over the extensive damage caused by Chinese activities in adjacent waters.

Hi, I'm Daz, pronounced "Daa-aa-z." I love to write content on gaming and stuff, but I can write on pretty much anything. You can reach me through my social handles or [email protected]