10 January 2017
Earlier this year, National Geographic reported on the environmental destruction taking place in the South China Sea while politicians and diplomats argue over which country controls the region. The fishery, one of the largest in the world, is on the brink of collapse, and hundreds of acres of coral reef, some of the most biodiverse in the world, have been buried under artificial islands or dug up in the quest for giant clams.
Giant clam poaching is the main cause of reef destruction in the South China Sea. Some 40 square miles of coral reefs, or about 10 percent, have been killed by Chinese fishermen seeking the giant bivalves. A booming trade in Tanmen, a port town in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, has made the fishing, carving, and selling of giant clam shells, carvings, and jewelry a lucrative business.
Now, in a stated attempt to protect the marine environment, Hainan Province has banned the processing and trade of giant clams and corals, another marine product that’s seen an increase in illegal trade. Calling the sea around the province, which encompasses several contested island chains in the South China Sea, a “treasure house,” the regulations amend the Coral Reef Protection Act of Hainan Province to include giant clam species.
… Those who have studied the trade aren’t confident that these new regulations will change much. “While the new rule is very comprehensive, I am not sure how well or effectively it will be implemented,” said Zhang Hongzhou, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, in an email. He said selling giant clams has always been illegal under other laws, but enforcement was a gray area. “My concern is that as long as there is huge demand for giant clam products, actions taken on the supply side will only achieve limited effects.”
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/01/2017