A U.S. satellite imagery showed that at least 35 Chinese fishing and militia vessels continued operating within Iroquois Reef on Sept. 17.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Monday that Chinese maritime militia ships were responsible for the “severe damage” on coral reefs within Philippine territorial waters in the South China Sea.
The PCG backed the military’s report and said it observed an average presence of 33 Chinese maritime militia vessels in Iroquois Reef and 15 other vessels in Escoda Shoal between Aug. 9 and Sept. 11.
The PCG said there was “visible discoloration” of the seabed in Escoda Shoal that indicated “deliberate activities may have been undertaken to modify the natural topography of its underwater terrain.”
The PCG said the continued swarming of Chinese militia ships “for an indiscriminate illegal and destructive fishing activities” may have directly caused the degradation and destruction of the marine environment in the areas.
Following that, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines has consistently voiced concerns about “ecologically harmful activities” conducted by foreign vessels within its maritime zones in the South China Sea.
Chinese Ships Remain in Disputed Reef
Satellite imagery from U.S.-based Planet Labs on Sept. 17 showed that at least 35 Chinese fishing and militia vessels continued operating within Iroquois Reef, according to Ray Powell, SeaLight director at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.
Mr. Powell said that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)