Scarborough Reef, or Panatag
Shoal (Philippine name: Panatag Shoal; Chinese name: 黃岩島 Huangyan Dao), more
correctly described as a group of islands and reefs in an atoll shape than a
shoal, is located between the Macclesfield
Bank and Luzon, Philippines in the South China Sea.
As with most of the landforms in this sea,
of the area is disputed.
references exclude this atoll from inclusion in the Spratly Islands, of which the closest is 350 km to the
forms a triangle shaped chain of
reefs and islands (but mostly rocks) around with an of area 150
. It has a
with area of 130 km² and depth of
about . Several of the islands including "South Rock" are 1/2m to
3m high and many of the reefs are just below water at high tide.
Near the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of an iron tower, 8.3m
The shoal is a protrusion in a 3,500m deep abyssal plain.
nearest landmass is Palauig, Zambales, on Luzon Island in
the Philippines, away. It is about west of Subic Bay.
Economy & Tourism
Fishermen from different countries operate in the area. A number of
Chinese fishermen have been arrested by Philippine officials in
this area with charges of illegal methods of fishing that destroy
the marine habitat of the reef and catching of endangered marine
species. Thick layers of guano lie on the rocks in the area.
Several Chinese diving excursions (1998) and amateur radio DXpeditions
(1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007) were done
within Scarborough Shoal.
Philippines, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) all claim
The Philippine Navy has long been vigilant in the Scarborough Shoal
for any suspicious or possible economic activity acted by the other
claimants. The Philippines base their claim on its
proximity and the principle of terra
nullius, which holds that it was previously unclaimed by a
sovereign state, which is also
applied by the Philippines in its claims to the Spratly Islands.
other hand, the Chinese and the Taiwanese bases for claims are that
the shoal was first mapped in the Yuan Dynasty as early as 1279 and was historically used by
The Chinese side states that the territorial claim by the
Philippine government is new. Treaties about the territory of the
Philippines and Philippine constitution in 1935 and maritime claims
in 1961 state that the westernmost line of the Philippine territory
is 118 East longitude, and the shoal is situated on the western
side of the line. Also, some maps published before 1990 did not
include the shoal as the territory of the Philippines.
||Guo Shoujing, Chinese astronomer, performed surveying of the
South China Sea for Kublai Khan. The surveying point was reported
to be Scarborough Shoal.
||Historical reports said that as early as the Spanish era,
Filipinos are already using the area for fishing and shelter for
fishermen during bad weather.
Scarborough Shoal as part of Zhongsha Islands
||China published a map drawing a line of claim across South
China Sea, Scarborough Shoal is included. The claims were
administered in Hainan province.
Philippines conducted an oceanographic survey of the
shoal. The Philippines together with the US Navy, used it as an impact range for defense
||The Philippines constructed an 8.3 meter high flag pole and
raised the Philippine flag in the
shoal. It was reported that a small lighthouse was built and
||China sent a scientific expedition to the shoal.
||The Philippines claimed an Exclusive Economic Zone , up to
200nm from the baselines from which their territorial sea is
measured, by Presidential Decree No.1599 in June 1978, including
the Scarborough Shoal.
||China sent a contingent to the shoal and cemented a "survey
marker" dated March 31, 1990.
||The Philippine Navy rehabilitated the lighthouse and reported
it to the International Maritime Organization for publication in
the List of Lights.
||China further asserted its claim after the US Navy left Subic
Base in Zambales in 1990. American Radio Relay League agreed to
award Scarborough Shoal a DXCC code of BS7H. B stands for
||The Philippines again officially expressed its claim to
Scarborough Shoal. The Philippine flag was re-hoisted. DENR and the University of the Philippines
conducted scientific, topographic and marine studies in the
||Bilateral clashes, chases and arrests of several Chinese
fisherman by the Philippine Navy took place. BRP Benguet went
aground, but removed the same year.
||The Office of the Philippine President enacted the "Philippine
Baselines Law of 2009" (RA 9522). The new law classifies the
Kalayaan Island Group and the Scarborough Shoal as a "regime of
islands under the Republic of the Philippines." This means that the
Philippines continues to lay claim over the disputed islands.
Sources and references
- What’s become of the MMDA?, Philippine Star, 2
- Philippine Baselines Law of 2009 signed: