Filipino fishermen pound Chinese ship owner over destructive dredging operations in Zambales
The national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) wants the Chineses ship owner and local executives of Zambales to face the consequence for their destructive dredging operations off the coast of Botolan.
“Regardless of the vessel’s classification, it’s still part of the dredging operations serving as a materials carrier. Dredging harms marine life through excavation of seabed and movement of solid particles, noise pollution, and blurring of water that drive away the fish. Thus, dwindling fish catch as lamented by the local fishers in the affected coastal town,” PAMALAKAYA said.
This is the group’s response to the statement of the ship owner that the vessel that ran aground off the coast of Botolan, Zambales last week was not a dredger but an aggregates carrier ship.
PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon Bobby Roldan said that the MV Zhong Hai 69 Alfa (ZH 69), the ship that beached the coast of Botolan, carries and transports dredged materials from the Bucao River to Botolan’s neighboring coastal town Cabangan, Zambales.
Roldan, a fisherman based in Central Luzon, said that the municipal waters of Botolan used to be abundant of fish and other marine resources, and also serve as alternative fishing grounds for fishermen who are unable to go farther due to presence of Chinese vessels and Coast Guard in Scarborough Shoal.
He said that when the Chinese vessel started its dredging operations in the area, there has been less fish catch too.
For his part, Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson, said that aside from the company that is carrying out the dredging, the provincial government of Zambales under Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. is also “liable” for granting permit to the operation that “clearly compromised the marine ecology”.
“It seems that the dredging operations did not follow the proper guidelines nor secure environmental clearances. As reports from the ground said that fish catch dwindled since the dredging began on their fishing grounds. The provincial government of Zambales should be held accountable for consenting to such destructive activity at the expense of our marine environment and livelihood of our fishers,” Hicap further said.