It was a great weekend for Malapascua, as some government agencies and concerned environmental organizations came together in the name of environmental protection and marine resources conservation.
Around 300 participants gathered for the coastal cleanup and beach forest planting along the shores of Malapascua last June 11.
Over 700 seedlings were planted all over the island: 500 mangrove seedlings and 200 molave seedlings scattered. The Lowland Forest Management of PENRO emphasized the importance of the trees as windbreaks or as shoreline protection during storm surges.
The activity was simultaneously held in the sitios of Guimbitayon, Lapus, Langob, Bool, Bakhaw, Kabatangan, Indonacion, Monteribio, Pasil, Tawigan, and Bario or the village proper of the island.
Public, private sector collaboration
William Villaver, marine biologist of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office headed the underwater assessment and cleanup in the coral reef stretch not far from the village.
Along with the 15 volunteer divers from the Navy, Coast Guard, and SeaKnights, the underwater team retrieved an estimated 100 kilos of trash, mostly plastics, pipes, bottles, and paint cans. They also retrieved a “crown of thorns”, a starfish that eats corals.
“Some corals are damaged, siguro ma-igo ni sila sa pangtukod sa mga boatman. Naay mga portion sa corals nga namatay kay natabunan sa mga sagbot,” said Villaver.
According to TEDH Compass, a non-government organization in Malapascua represented by Mariela Giolicci Pesotic and Dani Bueno, about 1,000 kilos of trash were collected from the shoreline and around 200 kilos of marine debris were retrieved from the underwater in their cleanup activity last week.
“The situation under the waters of Malapascua is an eye-opener for the locals and the tourists.” said Pesotic.
Meanwhile, People and the Sea, a private organization also in the island, founded by Axelle Jorcin from France, have been actively collaborating with the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office in Daanbantayan.
People and the Sea representative Judith Almonase said that they are looking forward to more partnerships with the Cebu Provincial Government for awareness activity in the island.
The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office is up for a battle against threats to biological diversity and productivity of provincial marine waters.
A forum organized by PENRO was attended by stakeholders, including the locals, resort owners, government agencies and non-government organizations who all restated their commitment of protecting marine resources.
Implementation of laws
During the forum, issues and disagreements were also raised by the locals and resort owners. These problems include salt water intrusion, scarcity of safe-drinking water in the community and implementation of the environmental law.
Barangay Captain Rex Novabos and some representatives of the different government offices in the Capitol identified possible resolutions and recommendations of the issues raised at the gathering.
The forum also provided information of the importance of protecting and preserving the abundance of coral reefs in the provincial waters.
Neneth Gulfan, representative of K-5 Rooms, shared that they are fully informed about waste segregation and composting but emphasized that the loophole is in the implementation of the penalties for violations.
However, Novabos highlighted that ordinances should be strengthened and that the laws should not be selective.
At present, the Philippines is included in the Coral Triangle that hosts a rich amount of marine life including the variety of coral species.
Coming from its name, Coral Triangle is the geographical term of the triangular area composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands.
The wide deposit of reefs in the Philippine marine waters is the home of different types of fish reef but it is now on the brink of danger due to coral mining, illegal fishing practices using dynamite and chemicals, coastal developments and waste dumping.