Earthrace Conservation hopes to bring about lasting change that will benefit marine life and the oceans.
While filming season 2 of the Operatives, Pete Behune and his team carried out surveillance both from the air and on the water of the Coral Triangle of the South China sea.
The Coral Triangle section of the South China Sea is one of the richest marine ecosystems anywhere on Earth. It is recognized as the global center of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation. It is also called the “Amazon of the seas.”
What Bethune and the Operatives discovered, was that the South China sea is under threat: China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei all have overlapping territorial claims, especially around the Spratly Islands, where there are worrying signs of military buildup, rampant overfishing, and oil exploration.
Bethune said “The South China Sea is changing as we speak and you’re seeing large numbers of boats from other countries move in and pillage it and the loser will be the environment.”
China is also building a number of military bases in the area, including one on Mischief Reef. In a recent image, some 70 construction and military vessels were seen dredging the remote atoll in preparation for a runway, a port facility, and a base.
On the nearby Second Thomas Shoal, the Philippines ran a 330-foot landing craft aground and now maintains a permanent presence of marines there in a bid to halt the Chinese invasion.
Numerous vessels from the Chinese National Fishing Fleet operate throughout the area, under protection of Chinese coast guard vessels. Fishing boats from several other countries, including Vietnam, are also moving into the area. If left unchecked, this once pristine ecosystem will be destroyed.
It is hoped that with time, a peaceful solution among these countries can be reached. As part of this, a significant marine protected area should be included. Until now, the debate has centered on ownership and territorial rights. It is time for the countries involved to commence development of a jointly supported, significant MPA that would become a World Heritage Site preserved and nurtured for future generations.
Earthrace Conservation and www.takepart.com have an active petition with over 14,000 signatures gathered at the time of this release.