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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
September, 1998 Vol. 1 No. 9
 


Coastal Alert
    


 

 

 

 



PCGA holds first national coastal cleanup
Navy steps up drive against illegal fishing
Mayor opposes access to small fishers
FishWorld opens in Iloilo
Philippines has highest number of threatened birds and mammals
Study says tourism on Mactan not sustainable
Coal tar spill threatens Boracay
Sewage spoiling China's Pearl River


PCGA holds first national coastal cleanup
The Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) launched the 1st PCGA National Cleanup Day last September 19, which is also International Coastal Cleanup Day. Dubbed "Oplan Linis sa Dagat at Baybayin," the cleanup was held in several areas including Manila Bay, Mactan, Davao Gulf, Cavite, Bicol, Iloilo, Poro Point, General Santos and Zamboanga.

"This is our way of helping the country prepare for La Nina," said Commodore Francisco K. Sanz, chairman of PCGA's National Executive Group. "With several volunteers, we intend to clean several miles of shorelines and bay waters throughout the country."
La Nina, a weather phenomenon that brings unusually heavy rains and storm build-up and is often regarded as the opposite of the better known El Nino, is now being felt in several areas in the country. "We can't do anything to stop it," said Sanz. "But if our shorelines and bay waters are clean, it would help cushion the effects of La Nina for all of us."

The PCGA also took the occasion to rehabilitate and plant mangroves and install artificial reefs in some areas. Mangroves and coral reefs provide shoreline protection against wave action, typhoons and heavy rains. Manila Bulletin. 09.28.98

Navy steps up drive against illegal fishing
At least 110 fishermen were arrested and nine boats were seized in two separate incidents during the first half of September in an intensified campaign against illegal fishin0g by the Philippine Navy in Western Samar and Bohol. The apprehending team reported that the fishermen were caught violating Section 90 of Republic Act 8550 know as the "Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998," which prohibits the use of active gear in municipal waters and bays and other fishing management areas. Their boats were turned over to the Coast Guard Station in Catbalogan. W.N. Yamson in Manila Bulletin. 09.28.98

Mayor opposes access to small fishers
A former official of Bayambang town in Pangasinan asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop awarding small fishers' groups rights to fish the town's Mangabul reservation. Former Mayor Miguel Matabang, chair of the Alliance for Progress of Balambang (APB), said the fishery area of the reservation will disintegrate if it is given to fishermen's associations.
Mangabul is a 2,059-hectare area between this town and neighboring Camiling and Moncada towns in Tarlac. It is crisscrossed by at least 10 long and winding creeks. On rainy days, 454 hectares turn into a lake, while during the summer, the whole area, including the creeks' banks, becomes a colorful field of rice, corn, vegetables and onions. It was declared by the national government as a fishery reservation in 1993 and then ceded to the municipal government under a usufruct for 50 years. The municipal government in turn bid it out for short-term leases to private persons, denying small fishermen access to the area. The DENR then assumed jurisdiction over the area and, last month, awarded five hectares of the 454-hectare fishery area to the San Gabriel II Fishermen's Association.

Matabang said when he was mayor here from 1960 to 1963, this town earned millions of pesos from the area and became a first-class municipality. "We want to preserve [Mangabul] and we are apprehensive that there will be more groups that will ask for fishery rights," he added. Philippine Daily Inquirer, 08.16.98

FishWorld opens in Iloilo
The government-hosted Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC-AQD) in Tigbauan, Iloilo opened recently a museum called "FishWorld" along the national road that cuts across its 40-hectare complex 25-km west of Iloilo City.

Doris Bagarinao, SEAFDEC AQD museum curator, said FishWorld expands the existing AQD Museum and Biodiversity Garden to become a small theme park dedicated to the environment education of the general public. It houses the AQD Museum's collections - both dry seaweeds, corals, shells, invertebrates and preserved fishes, crustaceans, snakes and others.

Although it was constructed by SEAFDEC-AQD, it is maintained as a public facility operated with funds from entrance fees and possibly grants from national and international sponsors.

The theme park features a large permanent ecosystems exhibit that shows the interrelations and interdependence of land and water ecosystems, i.e., the oceans, coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, estuaries, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests with human communities, fishponds, agri-farms, and factories. AQD is one of the four departments of SEAFDEC, an international treaty organization founded in 1967 to promote fisheries development in Southeast Asia. Manila Bulletin, 09.03.98

Philippines has highest percentage of threatened birds and mammals
The Philippines has emerged as the top "killing field" in the world for birds and mammals. Latest surveys from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reveal that 32% of the Philippines' 153 mammals and 15% of its bird species are being relentless driven to the brink of extinction. The Philippines has the highest percentage of threatened bird species and ranks second to the African-island nation of Madagascar in the threatened mammals list.

The Philippines today offers repeated examples of what ecologists call the "empty forest effect": some trees still stand, but the wildlife has long vanished. With their limited range, birds on island archipelagos are especially vulnerable. They account for 84% of extinction.

Worldwide, one in every four vertebrates - animals with an internal skeleton and spinal column, including turtles, reptiles and fish - is under pressure. "We're in the midst of a mass extinction, not seen since the disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago," said Worldwatch's John Tuxill. "What we are losing in this self-made biodiversity crisis is still a mystery. This massive gap in our understanding makes it difficult to grasp the true dimensions of this crisis." The massive decimation of species occurs within an "Asia-Pacific Triangle" bounded by India, New Zealand and Japan. In some countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, community-supported reserves are slowly curbing the damage. But networks of protected areas, by themselves, cannot reverse the "killing curve." Governments must encourage local communities to participate in conservation. Laws must be strengthened, and the Convention on Biodiversity implemented. "We still have the choice of saving most species," the report noted. "But our children may not." Juan Mercado (Depthnews) in The Philippine Star. 09.13.98

Study says tourism on Mactan not sustainable
Cebu's Mactan Island is unlikely to emerge soon "as a high-class tourist resort destination in Southeast Asia." Its inability to compete with Indonesia's Bali, Thailand's Phuket and Malaysia's Langkawi does not stem from lack of trying by Cebu's fledgling industry but from polluted seas, damaged beaches and inadequate efforts to reverse the ecological decline, says a Kiel University (Germany) study.

"Lack of an intact, natural environment inhibits sustainable development of the industry," said Lornz Dagge in a PhD thesis focusing on Cordova town and the village of Punta Engano. "If ecological problems are not solved, the basis for future tourism will simply go down the drain. Resort tourism as it exists now on Mactan Island is one that uses up natural resources." Juan Mercado (Depthnews) in Philippine Daily Inquirer. 08.03.98

Coal tar spill threatens Boracay
A two-year-old coal tar spill off Boracay Island is threatening to destroy the island's white beaches, a former local official warned. Lawyer Florencio Gonzales, a former Aklan provincial board member and an environmental advocate, said coal tar sediments have now mixed with the fine white sand along the seven-kilometer beach of the island. This becomes evident especially during the southwest monsoon season.

The coal tar spilled into the sea off Boracay two years ago from a barge bringing the material to a big resort establisment then being constructed north of the island, according to Gonzales. He said he has since then called the attention of local authorities, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism, but nothing has been done to clean up the spill. The coal tar sediment has started to blacken the sea water along the shores of the island, he added. Odon Bandiola in The Philippine Daily Inquirer. 09.03.98

Sewage spoiling China's Pearl River
The boom city of Guangzhou is pumping millions of tons of untreated sewage into the South China Sea every day, local media warned. Only 300,000 tons of the city's 2.7 million tons of sewage a day are treated before being discharged into the Pearl River, the China Daily said.

The southern city's treatment rate of only 10% is way below the target of 25% and light years behind developed nations which treat almost all sewage discharge.

"The Pearl River is now one of the most heavily polluted rivers in China, with the main sources being urban domestic sewage and sewage generated by the city's booming catering industry," the China Daily said.

China has only recently started to address the massive environmental degradation its rush into industrialization has caused. Last week, it ordered a ban on upstream logging after the worst floods in decades submerged large tracts of the nation, but problems of sewage and industrial pollutants remain extremely serious. AFP in The Philippine Star. 08.16.98


  

 

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