West Philippine Sea

IN PHOTOS: Philippine scientists assess coral reef near Pag-asa Island

Bea Cupin

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IN PHOTOS: Philippine scientists assess coral reef near Pag-asa Island

Filipino scientists, accompanied by personnel from the BFAR and PCG, conduct an assessment at cays close to Pag-asa in the West Philippine Sea on March 21, 2024.

Photo by PCG

The Philippine Coast Guard says the Filipino scientists' marine scientific resource assessment was successful despite intimidation tactics by China

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Friday, March 22, that Filipino scientists have successfully conducted four hours of “extensive coral reef and fishery resources assessment” at Pag-asa Cays 1 and 2, despite “intimidation tactics” by China.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson of the PCG for the West Philippine Sea, reported that a Chinese coast guard ship “came as close as 100 meters” to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel during the visit. 

A Chinese military helicopter was also monitored hovering above the Philippine ships.

A Philippine contingent – of scientists and PCG personnel – checked on the cays close to Pag-asa. Among those who joined the mission were experts from the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology, the BFAR, and the Department of Agriculture’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute.

The BFAR noted that they found “no diversity” in the coral reef close to the cay. 

See the photos from the PCG below.

Aircraft, Helicopter, Transportation
Destroyer, Military, Navy
Photography, Boat, Transportation
Coast Guard, Military

China’s coast guard has insisted that the Filipino scientists ignored its warnings, illegally landed on the cays, and violated China’s sovereignty.

Tarriela fired back at Beijing on Friday.

“The BFAR and the PCG strongly refute the false narrative presented by the China Coast Guard (CCG) regarding the marine scientific resource assessment conducted by a Filipino marine scientist at Pag-asa Cays 1 and 2,” he said.

“The presence of the CCG and Chinese Maritime Militia vessels in the area is a clear infringement of the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty,” added Tarriela. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.