The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
June, 1998 Vol. 1 No. 6
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"Like rainforests, reefs harbor much of the planet’s wealth of species and are being rapidly degraded by humans," said Dirk Bryant, one of the authors. "The news is grim."
The study came only weeks after US President Bill Clinton highlighted ecologists’ concern about coral reef degradation at a conference on oceans in Monterey, California, at which he pledged $6 million to help restore degraded reefs in US coastal waters.
Coral reefs consist of thousands of small organisms and an outside cover of a single-celled plant that gives off the coral’s distinctive bright colors. They are home to a fourth of all marine fish species, according to scientists. Sensitive to pollution and even to unusually warm water, the coral gives off a bleached appearance when it dies. AP in Cebu Daily News, 06.24.98
Red Tide Hits Central Luzon (Again)
The deadly red tide usually occurs at the start of the rainy season.
"We need more rain so that the affected shellfish will be thoroughly washed of the toxins," said Jose Garrido, DA regional director for Central Luzon. Bert Basa in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 06.23.98
Fish Kill in Laguna de Bay
Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Delfin Ganapin refuted the group’s charges, saying the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has determined that salt water caused the fish kill. According to the LLDA, a round-the-clock water monitoring and sampling of Laguna de Bay revealed that salt water entered the Bay due to its low water level, increasing its chloride level and affecting freshwater fisheries.
The local government of Jala-jala is conducting its own investigation into the fish kill. Jala-jala Mayor Jose de los Santos said he has tapped the assistance of non-governmental organizations and the private sector to help determine its cause.
"Fishing is the primary source of income of the people of Jala-jala. I’m afraid that if the fish kill continues, it will cause massive unemployment (in our town)," De los Santos said.
Pamalakaya said at least 6,000 fishing families in the four Rizal towns have been severely affected by the fish kill. The group demanded immediate indemnification for the affected families and the cancellation of Kephil Corporation’s license to operate. PNA in Cebu Daily News, 06.20.98
La Niña Peril
Pagasa made its latest forecast even as it announced that the Philippines was still reeling from the destructive effects of El Niño, as shown by the "way below normal" rainfall in most parts of the country despite the onset of the rainy season. El Niño is characterized by the unusual warming of the eastern Pacific which alters global weather patterns. A La Niña episode is the opposite of and usually follows an El Niño episode. While El Niño significantly reduced rainfall and caused drought in many areas in the country, La Niña is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of typhoons.
Agriculture officials said La Niña could be more destructive than El Niño, as farmers start planting at the onset of the rainy season. The prolonged rainfall it brings could also adversely affect tourism and the fishing industry.
"During prolonged heavy rains, there is a big chance that the coliform level of water in coastal areas would go up because the rains would wash down nutrients from the uplands," said Westly Rosario, officer-in-charge of the National Fisheries Research Development Center (NFRDC), an agency under the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). The NFRDC has set up 12 water sampling stations at Lingayen Gulf to monitor the quality of water in the Gulf. DZ Pazzibugan in Philippine Daily Inquirer, 06.28.98; PNA in Cebu Daily News, 06.20.98
Boy Killed for "Poaching"; Marine
Sanctuary Declared Void
The so-called "marine sanctuary" has long been the center of controversy between the owners of the Nalusuan Beach Resort and marginal fishers. The owners have been preventing fishers from going within an area 50 meters from the beach, claiming it had been legally declared a fish sanctuary. On June 6, the dispute assumed a moral dimension when Higenio Sumalinog, a 16-year-old fisher from nearby Caohagan Island, was killed, allegedly by a "warning shot" fired by a boatman from the resort, while spearfishing 30 meters from the resort’s wharf.
The incident finally spurred the Cebu Provincial Board into settling the issue. In a resolution signed on June 24, the Board declared, "The fish sanctuary in the waters surrounding Nalusuan Island is non-existent... There is no fish sanctuary at all, therefore everybody is welcome to enter the area, and fishermen are allowed to fish in the sea waters off Nalusuan as long as they use legal methods." The resolution did not state if sanctions would be slapped against the beach resort owners.
Earlier Paolo Tagsip, municipal secretary of Cordova town, which has jurisdiction over Nalusuan, sent a letter to the provincial secretary’s office informing the Provincial Board that he could not find any town ordinance declaring a Nalusuan sanctuary.
The owners of the resort claimed the shooting was "accidental" and they were merely enforcing a law protecting the alleged fish sanctuary. By FJ Dungog in Cebu Daily News, 06.25.98
Manila Aquarium Restored
Hole In The Sky: Montreal Protocol
A Success But...
The Montreal Protocol is an international agreement on limiting the production of substances that deplete the ozone layer. Under the agreement, developed and developing countries agreed to phase out CFCs -- chloro-fluorocarbons -- which are commonly used in aerosols and refrigeration systems. Many experts doubt that targets can be met, although CFC use has dropped dramatically in many industrialized countries. According to the WMO/UNEP report, ozone decline in the middle latitudes in both the northern and southern hemispheres has slowed in comparison with the previous scientific assessment done in 1994. "If measures have not been taken in accordance with the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments and Adjustments, the ozone decline would have been much stronger and whould have continued for many more decades," the report said.
Despite such findings, WMO warned that the ozone layer is at its most vulnerable now and things will get worse before they get any better. "We could expect this ozone depletion to be stronger than anything we have observed up to now," said Rumen Bojkov, the leading ozone expert at the Geneva-based UN weather agency.
The ozone layer is a protective fragile shield of gas that absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. It has been increasingly pierced by holes caused by man-made chemicals. The holes are blamed for skin cancer and cataracts in humans.
The ozone layer is expected to hit its all-time thinnest by 2000 or 2001. Bojkov said scientific models have shown that the holes would stay for the coming 20 years, but a recovery by the middle of the next century would bring it back to the 1960s levels -- if measures recommended by the Montreal Protocol are fully implemented. PNA/Xinhua in The Freeman, 06.24.98
Pollution Inspection: Private Groups To
"It is a novel approach that would address our problem of lack of inspectors, budget constraints and limited laboratory testing capacity," said Dolino. "We have more than 1,000 factories in Cebu. We cannot inspect all of them with only eight personnel."
The plan is for DENR to contract private firms and non-governmental organizations that have the technical expertise to gather technical data on possible pollution sources. The firms would be required to coordinate their site inspections with the government. Dolino said the German Technical Cooperation Agency has expressed willingness to finance and provide technical expertise to the project. By Froilan Gallardo in Cebu Daily News, 06.28.98
Tañon Strait Now A Protected Seascape
Studies made by the Silliman University Marine Laboratory in 1991 indicate that there are at least nine species of dolphins and whales in the Tañon Strait. These include the Spinner dolphin, Spotted dolphin, Pygmy killer whale, Dwarf whale and Pilot whale, among others.
A public hearing on the proposal held last April 14 revealed the coastal communities’ concern about the effects of the declaration on the fishing industry there. They received assurances that the fishers’ livelihood would not be affected as the proclamation covers only the protection of the habitats of marine mammals.
Environment officers stressed that the proclamation will help ensure the full development of Tañon Strait for tourism and at the same time ensure the protection and sustainable management of the area’s biodiversity. By JP Abayon in Sun*Star, 06.24.98