China's fish ecosystem on verge of collapse

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Scientists predict that the whole ecosystem of the South China Sea will collapse under the weight of overfishing, poaching, and the coral-reef destruction caused by China's construction of new military bases on top of coral reefs.

1. Moving maps showing location and extent of South China Sea
2. Moving maps showing Nine Dash line and China's modern claims in Sea
3. Show fishermen on trawler pulling up an almost-empty net
4. Show many fish swimming in beautiful coral reef
5. Show poachers on boats doing illegal poaching of giant clams
6. We go underwater to see how poachers use boat screws to destroy coral.

VOICEOVER (in English):
Tensions in the South China Sea are escalating, as China and its neighbors increasingly use commercial fishing vessels and warships to stake hotly disputed territorial claims and harvest one of the world's most fragile fishing grounds.

China claims more than 80% of the Sea, and it bases that claim on a 70-year-old map that marks its territory with nine dashes that reaches down 1,800 kilometers from its southern island of Hainan. The UN has recently ruled that this claim is invalid, but this has only made China more aggressive in enforcing its claim.

This claim-staking contest is now having severe repercussions, as fishermen are reporting dwindling fish stocks after China subsidized its massive fishing fleet with billions of dollars, which led to overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs — which are vital to the fast regeneration of fish stocks.

The South China Sea is believed to be the area with the most biodiversity on earth, according to marine biologist Professor John McManus from the University of Miami. He said there are about 570 species of coral in the region and these bring thousands of species of fish.

However, scientists like McManus now predict that this whole ecosystem will collapse under the weight of overfishing and the coral destruction caused by China's construction of new military bases on top of coral reefs.

More than 104 square kilometers of coral reef has also been destroyed by giant clam poachers, who use boat propellers to hack apart coral reefs and pry out the giant clams, which are a delicacy in China. Another 57 square kilometers have been destroyed by China's base-building activities.

SOURCES: Bloomberg, Associated Press,, Benar News