Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal in the West Philippines Sea, once vibrant, now bear the scars of deliberate activities, with crushed corals and discoloration revealing a troubling transformation flagged by the Philippine Coast Guard in mid-September.
Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal, two features in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), appeared lifeless, with almost no signs of life. Escoda shoal’s seabed has visible discoloration. Crushed corals are present in Rozul Reef. This was how the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) described the marine destruction in the contested area in the South China Sea in mid-September. The PCG said “deliberate activities may have been undertaken to modify the natural topography of its underwater terrain.”
The Coast Guard blamed the “severe” destruction on what it describes as indiscriminate, illegal, and destructive fishing activities of the Chinese maritime militia in the two sea features.
When PCG discovered the marine destruction from August to early September, 33 Chinese militia vessels were present near Rozul Reef and 15 in Escoda shoal.
China denied the allegations, saying it has no factual basis, and urged the Philippines to “stop creating a political drama from fiction.”