MANILA (DPA) - The Philippines is considering legal action against China for allegedly harvesting giant clams in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday (April 16).
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Junior said the government had filed a diplomatic protest after Filipino fishermen reported that Chinese vessels were "mass harvesting giant clams" from Scarborough Shoal.
"We just caught them doing that recently, filed a diplomatic note, and will be taking legal action," Locsin said in a tweet. "With our legal department now."
Scarborough Shoal - also known to the Chinese as Huangyan Dao or Democracy Reef - is located 230km from the Philippines' north-western coast.
The shoal was the site of a stand-off between Philippine and Chinese government ships in April 2012. China later took control of the area, often chasing away Filipino fishermen.
The incident prompted Manila in January 2013 to file an arbitration case against China, questioning Beijing's sweeping claims to the disputed sea.
In July 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled Beijing has no legal or historic basis to its claim over the South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in mineral and marine resources, which are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
The tribunal added that China's actions at Scarborough "violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone."