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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
August, 1998 Vol. 1 No. 8

Coastal Alert





Act on Env
ironmental Bills, Congress Urged
Commission Says Commercial Fishing Destroying Lingayen Gulf
Fish Dispersal At Naujan Lake
We’re Running Out of Safe Water, Says DOST Chief

Palawan - White Dolphin
Surigao del Norte - Dugong
Negros Oriental - Light-emitting Fish

Act on Environmental Bills, Congress Urged
Newly designated Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Antonio Cerilles called on the 11th Congress to "take a closer look at the environmental bills that have been junked and take steps to enact them into law."

Cerilles identified at least nine environment-related bills that have been junked or were not acted upon by the last Congress. These include the Clean Air Act; Massive Reforestation Bill, Land Use Bill, Land Code Bill, Clean Water Act, Establishment of Coastal Environment Program Bill, and Wildlife Conservation Bill.

The Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has 14 implementation strategies under the Estrada administration, Cerilles added. These are:

  1. Promotion of sectoral and policy complementation in the implementation of various environment and natural resources programs and projects, and strengthening of the DENR’s internal capability through streamlining of its functions, modernization, computerization and retooling.

  2. Simplification of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and monitoring of compliance to the conditionalities of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) and strengthening of environmental laws. As part of the simplication strategy, DENR will work with non-governmental organizations and devolve the issuance of ECCs to its field offices.

  3. Permanent delineation of forest boundaries, a pre-requisite for instituting sustainable forest management and a complement to the development of the national land use policy and local land use planning.

  4. Effective protection of existing forest resources and rehabilitation of degraded lands.

  5. Development of an integrated land use plan to help arrest the conversion of environmental reserves and farmland into industrial areas.

  6. Revitalization and enhancement of forest-based industries and private investments in the forestry sector.

  7. Strengthening of community-based forest management.

  8. Completion of the establishment and management of the protected areas system of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

  9. Banning of mining in the country for considerations of environmental protection and the development and progress of local communities and indigenous peoples. Cerilles said DENR will not approve any financial and technical assistance agreements (FTAAs) or mineral production sharing agreements within the first 100 days of his administration.

  10. Strengthening of land records and management and information system through computerization to eliminate fake titling activities and minimize land disputes.

  11. Upgrading of natural resources and environmental research capability of DENR and encouraging private sector support.

  12. Reinforcement of partnership between DENR and local government units.

  13. Promotion of sustainable development of coastal and marine areas by intensifying efficient planning and management of coastal and marine areas and developing close inter-agency and inter-sectoral partnerships in resolving environmental and natural resources problems.

  14. Strengthening of collaboration with United Nations agencies and donor communities in environmental protection and sustainable development. PNA in The Freeman, 08.05.98

Commission Says Commercial Fishing Destroying Lingayen Gulf
Don’t look at us, commercial fishers counter
Small fishers’ groups and the Lingayen Gulf Coastal Area Management Commission urged the government to review Fishery Administrative Order No. 194, which would allow the present number of commercial boats to continue operating in Lingayen Gulf. They said commercial fishing operations are rapidly depleting and degrading the Gulf and should be totally banned from the area. The order was signed by President Fidel Ramos shortly before he stepped down in June.

Commercial fishers, however, argued that the Commission and small fishers’ groups are barking up the wrong tree. "The Commission [should] go after the blast fishers as [blast fishing], without question, is the most destructive form of fishing," George Chua Cham, chairman of the Lingayen Gulf Commercial Fishing Association, said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar. He added that the situation is aggravated by the proliferation of small payaws (a fish-aggregating device) which have become targets of blast fishing. "Removing the payaws will eliminate up to 90% of blast fishing," he said. G. Cardinoza in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 08.05.98

Fish Dispersal At Naujan Lake
Some 135,000 milkfish and tilapia fingerlings worth P500,000 were released in Naujan Lake to boost the lake’s fish population. Provincial agriculturist Rodolfo Valdez said the fingerlings were taken from the P5-million Milkfish Broodstock Development Project in Barangay San Jose I, Naujan town. Valdez said the dispersal is being done yearly to replenish the lake’s fish population which has dwindled due to overfishing. Naujan Lake is one of the largest freshwater bodies in the country. J.J. Jabal, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 08.10.98

We’re Running Out of Safe Water, Says DOST Chief
Science and Technology Secretary William Padolina warned that the country would face a national crisis on drinking water. He said lack of potable water has already become a major concern for Metro Manila residents. The problem, he added, is now "building up in a crisis proportion" on a national scale. A few years from now, he predicted, a household might have to spend up to 60% of its food budget on bottled water "to prevent its members from getting gastrointestinal diseases." J.F. Canuday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 08.10.98.

Palawan - White Dolphin.
A white dolphin previously unrecorded in the Philippinse has been spotted in northern Palawan. Named after Burma’s Irrawaddy River and scientifically known as Orcaella brevirostris, this species is described as "elusive". It lives in the coastal, brackish and fresh waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific. The discovery of the second species of white dolphin in the country (the first is the finless porpoise) started with the recovery on the shores of Malampaya Sound of a single skull, which was confirmed to be that of the Irrawaddy dolphin. This brings to 21 the number of dolphin species found in Philippine waters. There are 80 known dolphin species in the world. J. Sarmiento in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 07.27.98

Surigao del Norte - Dugong.
Two sightings of dugong were reported about 1 km off Cagdianao, Dinagat Island in Surigao del Norte, 3 km across Dinagat Sound to the boundary of the Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape. The first sighting was made in February, the second in June. "These are unexpected sightings," said Joselito Ramirez Jr., IEC officer of the Surigao Economic Development Foundation Inc., who first posted the report on this website’s Discussion Board last June. "The dugong abounded in the area in the 1950s, was captured until the 1960s and, before these recent sightings, was last seen in the 1970s."

Ramirez also noted that dynamite fishing at nearby Halian Island has stopped, which could be the reason for the return of the dugong.

Negros Oriental - Light-emitting Fish
Reports of "dancing undersea lights" off the coast of Barangay Martilo in La Libertad, Negros Oriental had people spinning tales of the lights’ supernatural and extraterrestrial origins. The truth turned out to be not so outworldly, but it was no less mysterious for the many questions it left unanswered. Scientists and scuba divers of the Environment and Natural Resources Management Division of the provincial government of Negros Oriental and the Silliman University Marine Laboratory agreed that the lights were caused by a school of fish belonging to the genus Leognathus, which is known to emit light. The slipmouth or palotpot belongs to this genus.

Veronico Duran, a member of the diving team, had the privilege of a close encounter. "The lights looked like disco lights coming out every 1.5 seconds," he said. "With bare eyes, we did not know where the lights came from. When we turned on our flashlights, we saw only fish. They all moved in unison, turning right and then left. It was like someone was orchestrating their movements."

Dr. Winfried Wiedemeyer, a German tropical ecologist and marine biologist and also a member of the expedition, said it was the first he had seen fish emitting that kind of light when in a school. His colleagues downplayed the possibility of a new fish species, but Wiedemeyer posed two questions: What makes the fish "blink" in unison? Why are they confined to the seawater off the coast of Barangay Martilo? By R.G. Capilitan in The Freeman, 08.06.98




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