Teaching Fishers to Fish
IMA recently trained fishers on Olango Island off Mactan, Cebu in the use of the environment-friendly barrier net as an alternative to sodium cyanide, a poisonous substance used for gathering live marine ornamental fish.
In a statement released last November, Alejandro C. Ansula, field director of the Destructive Fishing Reform Program of IMA, underscored the importance of taking aquarium fish gatherers away from destructive fishing techniques. "Recent studies have shown that most of the coastal fishing areas around the country are choking to death, if not already dead," he said. "Illegal fishing (by explosives, cyanide and other banned and destructive fishing practices), overfishing, illegal conversions of mangroves and shallow fishery (into vacation resorts and seafood farms), and the environmental nightmare of pollution, beach litter and erosion have taken their toll on the country’s nearshore fishing grounds. Our fishery experts are one in saying that if present renewal programs failed to turn the tide in favor of revival, the country would be surrounded by ‘fishless seas’ at the turn of the century."
All in a Day’s Work
"The message that the ICC sought to bring across -- that garbage is everybody’s problem and responsibility -- seemed to strike a responsive chord among the various sectors," noted Rebecca Pestaño-Smith, information education and communication coordinator of the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP), which facilitated the cleanup in several areas in the Visayas and Mindanao as well as in San Vicente, Palawan and Infanta, Quezon. A major outcome of the ICC was the institutionalization of the coastal cleanup by the governments of Lapu-lapu City and Cebu City, which have adopted measures to include coastal areas in their ‘clean and green’ programs.
The event was part of a yearly cleanup campaign coordinated internationally by the Washington-based Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) and in the Philippines by the non-governmental organization International Marinelife Alliance Philippines. Data from the Philippine cleanup will be sent to CMC and will be included in a database to be analyzed by scientists in their search for a solution to the world’s marine pollution problem.
No incidence of mercury poisoning has so far been reported among people living near the bay area, but a DA official said tests must be conducted "immediately." Mercury, a heavy, silver-white metallic element used by small and large-scale miners to process ore into gold, is a slow-acting poison that can have devastating effects on the brain. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
In Dry Straits
Authorities say the current water crisis is an offshoot of the El Niño, which has brought an unusually early onset of dry weather in some parts of the Philippines, including Metro Manila. Some are not too quick to blame the El Niño, however, saying the crisis could have been averted with better water management and the timely rehabilitation of the Metro Manila’s aging water distribution system.
The term El Niño originally referred to a change in surface currents along the coasts of Peru and Chile. It is now generally used to describe a complex interaction of ocean and atmosphere that links the entire planet and causes extreme changes in weather patterns around the world.
Fishing on the Edge
A recent study on Lingayen Gulf’s resources indicates that the Gulf can accommodate only 15-20 medium-size commercial fishing boats with the municipal water boundary set at 7 km from the shoreline. The study also notes that, from 1988 to 1995, fish catch in the Gulf decreased by about 12 percent every year.
In a related development, a police director met with officials and fisher leaders in Bataan, a peninsula shielding Manila Bay from the South China Sea, to appeal for the community’s support of police efforts to stop illegal fishing in Manila Bay. "Our campaign against [illegal fishing] will be more effective if the community itself will join hands with the government in going after illegal fishermen," he said.
Observers were cynical, however. If the police is really serious in going after illegal fishers, said one, all they have to do is keep watch in the public markets and they will see enough evidence to apprehend the vendors. By M. Supnad in Manila Bulletin
Greenhouse Gas Conference: All Hot Air?
The bone of contention was a demand by the United States for new commitments from developing nations which Washington says was critical to its joining a Kyoto protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Developing countries have long contended that industrialized nations, because they account for about two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions on this planet, must first commit themselves to significant reductions before they can ask others to do the same. "The accord so far is not something one can write home about in terms of the performance of our partners in terms of their present obligations," Mwandosya said. "From that perspective really there is no moral justification on the part of anybody to ask us at this stage... to take on [new] commitments."
According to UN estimates, current emission trends are likely to cause average global temperatures to rise 1.0 to 3.5 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years. AFP
Green Vote ... Of Sorts
Ranking first in the experts’ list are the problems that arise from rapid urbanization, including falling standards of living, slum creation, water shortages, traffic congestion, excessive vehicle exhaust emissions, industrial and household air pollution, river and sea water pollution, scarce waste disposal facilities, and inadequate disaster preparation. Environmental deterioration was second in their list, but concerns again centered on the urban environment, particularly in Asia.
UN statistics show that urban populations in developing countries have grown explosively, more than tripling from 470 million in 1960 to 1.44 billion in 1990.
Scientists Speak Out
More than 400 endorsements were gathered at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in June, and over the past several months hundreds more were received from over 60 countries and territories! It is hoped that this statement will serve as a wake-up call for the general public and policy makers, and carry the message that significant changes are required in how we treat and manage the oceans.
Please read the following Troubled Waters statement and consider signing on. E-mail endorsements are fine, though please make sure to include your name, title and affiliation.
A copy of the statement can also be found at MCBI’s website: http://www.mcbi.org.
Marine ecosystems are home to many phyla that live nowhere else. As vital components of our planet’s life support systems, they protect shorelines from flooding, break down wastes, moderate climate and maintain a breathable atmosphere. Marine species provide a livelihood for millions of people, food, medicines, raw materials and recreation for billions, and are instrinsically important.
Life in the world’s estuaries, coastal waters, enclosed seas and oceans is increasingly threatened by:
Scientists have documented the extinction of marine species, disappearance of ecosystems and loss of resources worth billions of dollars. Overfishing has eliminated all but a handful of California’s white abalones. Swordfish fisheries have collapsed as more boats armed with better technology chase ever fewer fish. Northern right whales have not recovered six decades after their exploitation supposedly ceased. Cyanide and dynamite fishing are destroying the world’s richest coral reefs. Bottom trawling is scouring continental shelf seabeds from the poles to the tropics. Mangrove forests are vanishing. Logging and farming on hillsides are exposing soils to rains that wash silt into the sea, killing kelps and reef corals. Nutrients from sewage and toxic chemicals from industry are overnourishing and poisoning estuaries, coastal waters and enclosed seas. Millions of seabirds have been oiled, drowned by longlines, and deprived of nesting beaches by development and nest-robbing cats and rats. Alien species introduced intentionally or as stowaways in ships’ ballast tanks have become dominant species in marine ecosystems around the world. Reef corals are succumbing to diseases or undergoing mass bleaching in many places. There is no doubt that the sea’s biological diversity and integrity are in trouble.
To reverse this trend and avert even more widespread harm to marine species and ecosystems, we urge citizens and governments worldwide to take the following five steps:
Nothing happening on Earth threatens our security more than the destruction of our living systems. The situation is so serious that leaders and citizens cannot afford to wait even a decade to make major progress toward these goals. To maintain, restore and sustainably use the sea’s biological diversity and the essential products and services that it provides, we must act now.
end of statement
Endorsements can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MCBI is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to advancing the sicence of marine conservation biology. To learn more about MCBI, visit http://www.mcbi.org or write to: