Davao LGUs to draft pollution control plan

Subscribe Now October 04, 2012 at 07:54pm

Local government units (LGUs) in the Davao Gulf have agreed to draft a master plan on pollution control and oil spill contingency as latest research claimed average fish catch on the gulf has dropped significantly in a decade. The memorandum of agreement signed on Sept. 14 will bind government executives to save and protect the gulf, said Leonardo P. Avila III, secretary-general of the Davao Gulf Management Council.

The timetable for the master plan would still be discussed in the council’s meetings with local executives in the coming months.

Aside from the LGUs, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Maritime Development Authority, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine Coast Guard, petroleum companies and shipping lines would also be involved in the drafting of the master plan.

Last month, the Department of Science and Technology in the Davao Region released last month a study, “Strengthening Governance and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries Management: An Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management Approach in Region XI,” which stated that the average fish catch has dwindled in the 10 years covered by the study, or from 2000 to 2010.

The average catch of hook-and-line fishermen in the Davao Gulf dropped from seven kilograms per day in 2001 to two kilograms in 2010. Twelve years ago, fishermen who used nets took home an average of nine kilos per day but this went down to just three kilograms in 2010.

The primary reasons for the decline in volume were the destruction of the habitat, water pollution, scarcity of fish cages and lack of discipline in the coastal communities surrounding the gulf.

The Davao Gulf supports the livelihood of 19,000 commercial and municipal fishermen. The gulf also sustains “the region’s 6.5-billion eco-tourism industry and 16-billion sea transport industry,” the study noted.

The gulf also hosts facilities of multinational companies such as Global Fruit Co. (Del Monte brand), Castle and Cooke (Dole), United Brands (Chiquita) and Lapanday.

The gulf generally serves as catchment of runoffs, erosion and effluents from 11 watersheds through 33 tributaries, in the Davao Region.

Capt. George V. Ursabia, Jr., commander of Coast Guard-Southern Mindanao, said the agency is ready to respond in case of an oil spill in the Davao Gulf.

Based on an existing protocol, the Coast Guard will handle the cleanup if the spill reaches a volume of over 10,000 liters, although the cost will be shouldered by the company that owns the tanker. For volumes less than 10,000 liters, the responsibility of cleanup will be handled by the company itself.

Mr. Ursabia said the Coast Guard has marine pollution booms and skimmer to retrieve the oil. The agency is also conducting annual inspection of depots to ensure they have oil spill contingency plans in place.

Fortunately, he said, aside from the late 1980s when a ship sunk in the gulf and spilled oil, there were no recorded major incidents since then.

With a coast line stretching 520 kilometers, the Davao Gulf is considered to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world with 20 species of mangroves, 11 species of cetaceans, five species of marine turtles, nine species of sea grass in beds that serve as feeding areas for dugongs or sea cows, and 412.1 kilometers of reefs.

Source: bworldonline.com

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