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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
June, 2000 Vol. 3 No.6
   
 

Coastal Alert    


 

 

 


In country
Coastal law enforcement pact for Region 7 signed
Las Pinas City wins UNEP Global 500 Award
Banned shrimp species smuggled into Philippines
Fishers mount protest against reclamation project
National seaweed conference set July 5-6
Dutch gov't agrees to fund port complex

Overseas
Reef Awareness Week set for July 23-29
Caviar smuggler sentenced to prison term, fined
House votes to ban shark finning
B.C. salmon farmers post another year of growth

CRMP News
Palawan provincial gov't to fund seaweed nursery

ILOM News
Moalboal, Cebu hosts celebrity dive


In country

Coastal law enforcement pact for Region 7 signed
The Coastal Law Enforcement Alliance for Region 7 (CLEAR7) memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed this month, bringing together the most significant government and non-government agencies involved in the regulation of coastal and marine activities in Central Visayas.

The regional heads of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Agriculture- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Interior and Local Governments, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and National Bureau of Investigation signed the MOU, together with the representatives of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, League of Municipalities of the Philippines - Bohol Chapter, Philippine National Association of Fish Wardens, International Marinelife Alliance and the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) of the DENR and the United States Agency for International Development.

Agriculture Undersecretary Cesar Drilon and Regional State Prosecutor Hernando Masangkay witnessed the signing. Each agency has designated two representatives to the alliance, one each for the steering committee and the technical working group. The steering committee, the alliance's policy-making body, is composed of the heads of the various agencies involved. The technical working group, its implementation and field arm, is made up of supervisory-level organic personnel.

Information management is key in the alliance's operation. CLEAR-7 will emphasize monitoring and documentation of field operations and best practices.

Coastal law enforcement strategies and field operations will be coordinated from a central base in Cebu City. R.M. Farrarons, CRMP

Las Piñas City wins UNEP Global 500 Award
The Philippine coastal city of Las Piñas is one of 14 individuals and organizations awarded this year's United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global 500 award for outstanding contributions to the protection of the environment. The award was handed over on June 4 as part of the World Environment Day celebrations.

With a population of 494,875, Las Piñas is home to big businesses such as Goodyear, Philips, Sarao Motors, Philippine Standard (Saniware) and Francisco Motors. Under the leadership of its Mayor, Vergel Aguilar, the city has drawn up a blueprint addressing the protection of the environment through legislation and action, and has reached its zero-waste management goal.

The average daily collection reaches about 700 cubic meters, and after three years of operation and because of its decision to have the operations managed by private contractors, the government has been able to save about P 140 million. The savings are used to finance projects, such as the construction of roads, schools, health clinics, day care and nutrition centers and colleges.

To encourage the active participation of the communities, the city and the Clean and Green Council conduct a quarterly beautification contest involving the depressed areas. Business establishments are encouraged to join the government's campaign by donating plastic garbage bags for distribution to the different barangays (communities). Through the Clean and Green Council, the city has organized a group of environmentally conscious students. Every weekend, all public schools conduct clean-up activities in their institution and in surrounding areas. Environmental awareness is also included in the students' subjects, and essay and painting contests and seminars are organized.

The UNEP established the Global 500 Laureate Roll of Honor to recognize the environmental achievements of individuals and organizations around the world. Since 1987, more than 600 Laureates have received the prestigious Global 500 Laureate award. Many Laureates devote impressive portions of their lives to such global concerns as climate change, deforestation, ocean pollution, dumping of toxic waste, and the conservation of biodiversity.

Banned shrimp species smuggled into Philippines
A disease-affected shrimp species is being smuggled into the country. The species, known as western white shrimp or Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) is reportedly affected by the Taura Syndrome Virus, which was first reported in Ecuador in 1992. Since then TSV has spread to other shrimp-farming areas of the Americas and been recognized as an economically devastating disease of P. vannamei.

A team from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) Fish Health Section confirmed that the species is now being cultured in the Philippines. According to the team's report, samples taken from a farm in Zambales were found to be P. vannamei, which does not occur naturally in the Philippines.

The report is contained in a publication of Bantay Sugpo, a task force created in 1996 by then Agriculture Secretary Salvador H. Escudero III to arrest the decline of the Philippine shrimp and prawn culture industry.

Under BFAR's Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 189, imports of live shrimps and prawns of all stages are prohibited except for scientific or educational purposes, subject to certain conditions and the issuance of a special permit by the Agriculture Secretary upon the BFAR Director's recommendation.

"There is no record of any application for such import with BFAR and even if it had been filed it would not have been approved because of the risk involved in terms of shrimp health," the task force stressed. It said the stock may have been brought in as nauplii (larvae) from Taiwan, possibly through the Subic Freeport, and raised to post-larval stage in a local hatchery.

The task force said there is not much the BFAR can legally do except to strictly monitor the batch of P. vannamei during the culture period, harvest and post-harvest processing. This is to ensure that the risk of possible spread of diseases that P. vannamei is known to carry will be minimized. R.A. Fernandez in Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6.18.00

Fishers mount protest against reclamation project
Fishers from barangay Basak Mambaling in Cebu, joined by members of the Environmental Defense Unit Children's Legal Bureau, stripped from the waist up and held a rally outside Cebu City Hall last June 13 to protest against a multi-million peso reclamation project in Cebu City.

The fishers demanded a stop to further development at the reclamation site and that they be provided with a resettlement site by the city.
Lawyer Joan Saniel of the Children's Legal Bureau, who was allowed to speak during the meeting, said the SRP should be stopped because it is environmentally destructive, encourages similarly destructive development projects, and is not economically feasible.

Saniel recommended that the city instead convert Pond A of the reclamation project into a fishpond.

Pond A is a 60-hectare rectangular area filled with two-meter deep water. Engineers plan to fill up the pond with filling materials to make it stable for future infrastructure.

The protesting groups also asked for a disturbance compensation fee, an alternative source of income and basic services such as food, medicine and school supplies. B.R. Padilla and G. Lao, The Freeman, 06.14.00

National seaweed conference set for July 5-6
The Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP), the national organization of seaweed farmers, local and international traders and exporters, carrageenan processors and exporters, will hold a national conference on July 5 and 6.

The conference theme is "The Seaweed Industry - A Continuing Vital and Profitable Enterprise for the Century."

SIAP leaders said they aim to resolve current significant issues, such as maintaining the quality of seaweeds produced in the country, price stability, and efficient infrastructure for moving dried seaweeds from marine farms to processing plants and international ports.

The organizers said they expect various representatives from the national government to participate in the national seaweed dialogue and share their know-how in seaweeds and carrageenan. Among the agencies invited to the conference are the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), their respective seaweed-focused bureaus, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Food Development Center, and other government agencies.

Other participants include international experts from the Codex Alimentarius, Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC), Joint Experts Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), other international institutions and foreign buyers of Philippine seaweed and carrageenan.

Dutch gov't agrees to fund port complex
The government of the Netherlands has agreed to fund the $1.7-billion industrial and international port complex in the town of Masinloc, Zambales being packaged as an unsolicited proposal of the US-backed SmithGroup Gexis Inc.

SmithGroup president and chief executive Victor Gamboa told a press conference yesterday that a consortium led by the Netherlands-based Tempo, ABM-Amro and Ballast Nedam has been formed to prepare the feasibility study for the project and undertake the implementation of the development plan.

The group has been given the exclusive development rights to the project following a memorandum of agreement with the local government unit, said Gamboa.

Under Executive Order No. 27 issued by the Estrada administration, the project was classified as a national priority to be implemented under the build-operate-transfer scheme.

Gamboa said the proposed Zambales Industrial Complex project would transform Masinloc into an international port city and a major industrial and commercial center, a vital linkage in the economic development of the entire Central Luzon region. D. Ferriols, The Philippine Star, 06.15.00

Overseas

Reef Awareness Week set for July 23-29
Reef Relief, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the coral reefs, announced that Reef Awareness Week in the United States has been scheduled for July 23 through July 29 this year. The annual event is designed to enhance appreciation and support for coral reefs.

This year's events include Reef Relief's Annual Membership Meeting, which will feature James Cervino, a coral reef researcher from the University of South Carolina who will speak about his research on, "Links Between Coral Diseases and Coral Bleaching." Craig Quirolo, Reef Relief's Marine Projects Director will present his annual "State of the Reef" address incorporating reefs in Florida and the Bahamas.

The week will also feature an Environmental Film Festival on local cable station, AT&T channel 5. Each night a different film that highlights coral reef protection will be telecast. For more information, a complete schedule or to become a volunteer or sponsor please contact Reef Relief at (305) 294-3100 or email reef@bellsouth.net.

Caviar smuggler sentenced to prison term, fined
In the first case upholding international protection for declining wild sturgeon populations, caviar importer Eugeniusz Kozcuk of Stamford, Connecticut, has been sentenced to 20 months in a federal prison and fined $25,000 by U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in the Eastern District of New York on June 6, according to Ed Grace, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Valley Stream, N.Y., law enforcement division. Kozcuk also forfeits $70,000 and 2,000 pounds of caviar worth more than $2 million.

Koczuk was found guilty in November of conspiracy, smuggling and violating the Lacey Act, a federal law protecting wildlife taken, transported or sold in violation of any U.S. law or treaty. He and a business associate paid off-duty airline employees to smuggle suitcases packed with caviar into the United States, where they were intercepted by federal investigators in October 1998, Grace said. Business records revealed sales of 21,000 pounds of caviar during a seven-month period when only 88 pounds of caviar were legally imported.

"This sentence punishes blatant disregard for laws protecting wildlife in favor of personal gain," said Grace.

During the day-long sentencing, Block said that caviar smuggling is a serious crime and that a clear message about the certainty of severe punishment must be sent to those dealing in black market caviar. In addition, the judge read a letter submitted by Robert Kennedy Jr. for the Natural Resources Defense Council and River Keepers on behalf of sturgeon that are harvested for their roe, which is processed and sold as caviar.

Two co-defendants have yet to be sentenced. Wieslaw Rozbicki was convicted of a felony Lacey Act violation, and Polish national Andrzej Lepkowski pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle wildlife.

For more information, including a fact sheet, "Protecting Sturgeon," see http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases and go to the Nov. 4, 1999, news release on the verdicts.

US Congress votes to ban shark finning
WASHINGTON- The Shark Finning Prohibition Act (H.R. 3535), introduced by Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) to end the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark's fin and throwing the rest of the shark overboard to die, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today.

"We are now closer than ever to ending the wasteful and unconscionable practice of cutting off a shark's fins and throwing the sometimes alive shark overboard to die. Now the Senate must vote to pass H.R. 3535 so that we can end shark finning once and for all," said Rep. Cunningham. H.R. 3535 would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to prohibit the practice of shark finning and ban the landing or possession of shark fins without the corresponding carcass in all United States waters.

US law prohibits shark finning in the federal waters of the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. However, in the U.S. Pacific Ocean where shark finning is practiced, the number of sharks killed only for their fins has grown dramatically. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, in the Central and Western Pacific fishery, the number of sharks finned in 1992 was only 2,289 blue sharks. Last year, fishermen in the Central and Western Pacific caught a total of 78,091 (more than a 2,500 percent increase) blue sharks of which 58,268 were brought on board, and 57,286 of which were finned and only a shameful 982 were retained. Shark fins comprise only one to five percent of a shark's bodyweight -- meaning that 95 to 99 percent of the shark is going to waste. Thus far, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC) has been unresponsive to pressure from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the recommendation of the House of Representatives.

"As a hunter, diver and fisherman myself, I believe we must end the unsportsmanlike, environmentally harmful and wasteful practice of shark finning so that our children may have the opportunity to enjoy our oceans and nature as well," said Cunningham.

For more information on shark finning and for photographs of this wasteful practice, please visit the Western Pacific Fisheries Coalition at http://209.133.10.132/sharks/ or the Ocean Wildlife Campaign at http://www.audubon.org/campaign/lo/ow/.

British Columbia salmon farmers post another year of growth
Salmon farmers in British Columbia, Canada are once again reporting significant growth in production, sales revenues and employment as they gather for their annual general meeting. The industry has bucked recent resource sector trends, and continued to increase its economic contribution from one year to the next.

Statistics compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and released by the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) at its AGM, indicate that the 1999 production of fresh, farmed salmon in B.C. waters increased 19% over the previous year to nearly 47,000 tons. The wholesale value of B.C. farmed salmon increased more than 16% to $347 million, while the industry's total contribution to the provincial economy GDP rose 10% to $677 million.

Direct and indirect employment created by the salmon farming sector increased 8% in 1999 to nearly 3,400 jobs, while direct and indirect wages rose to $96 million.

"Despite stable market prices and the fact that our industry has not yet been able to access new sites for expansion, we continue to be one of the best performing sectors of the B.C. economy,'' said BCSFA Executive Director Anne McMullin. "The growth of our industry has been achieved through production efficiencies at existing farm sites and the provision of new value-added processing infrastructure throughout coastal British Columbia.''

The United States is easily the largest market for B.C. farmed salmon, accounting for nearly 74 per cent of production by volume. About 23 per cent of B.C. farmed salmon is sold domestically, while Japan and Taiwan collectively account for three per cent of the industry's production. British Columbia remains the world's fourth largest producer of farmed salmon, behind Norway, Chile and the United Kingdom.

Due to recent investments in value-added processing plants and infrastructure in coastal B.C., nearly one-quarter of the industry's total production was processed into fillets or other value-added product forms last year.

The B.C. government is currently working to implement a new policy framework for salmon aquaculture in British Columbia that will safeguard the environment and allow for industry development.

"B.C. salmon farmers are committed both to maximizing the economic benefits our industry creates in the province, and to continuous environmental improvement to safeguard the marine environment and wild stocks,'' said McMullin. "We believe this dual commitment is the basis for earning the social license we require to see more farm sites established.'' BC Salmon Farmers Association, 06.15.00

CRMP News

Palawan provincial gov't to fund seaweed nursery
The provincial government of Palawan has agreed to help fund alternative enterprise development in the province's coastal municipalities. An initial fund of Php1 million has been earmarked for the establishment of a seaweed nursery and for materials and training for seaweed farming.

As this developed, two more seaweed enterprises were set up with technical assistance from the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) for 40 families in Barangay Poblacion and Barangay Bunuangin, San Vicente. A vinegar-making enterprise utilizing coconut water discarded by copra producers has also been established at Barangay New Agutaya, also in San Vicente.

ILOM News

Moalboal, Cebu hosts celebrity dive
The town of Moalboal, southwest of Cebu City, hosted last June 17 a celebrity dive aimed at drumming up public interest and participation in coastal and marine conservation. Featured celebrities were singer/songwriter Jim Paredes and actor-comedian Jon Santos, who participated in two dives at Pescador Island off Moalboal and a mangrove planting activity organized by the local community.

The dive was organized by the I Love the Ocean Movement Cebu Chapter in cooperation with the local government unit and some of Moalboal's resort establishments.

"I feel lucky to have been here today, to have seen this place still intact and beautiful," said Jon Santos in an interview with oneocean.org shortly after his second dive at Pescador Island.

Paredes, who has participated in several dives organized by I Love the Ocean Movement, said the celebrity dives have had tremendous impact on him and his fellow artists. "We saw we really have to do something [to protect the sea]."

Santos and Paredes are members of GreenEarth, an environmental organization of Filipino artists.

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