DENR: Make up for damage to sea grass, marine life

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Cordova town is expected to lose sea grass and other marine life during the 10-hectare reclamation for a roll-on-roll-off port.

The damage was acknowledged by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which issued an Environemntal Compliance Certificate in March 2, 2010.

In the Impact Management Plan (IMP) of the agency, Cordova is required to “compensate” for the loss by “supporting any project to increase sea grass and other species and rehabilitation in another area”.

As a condition of the ECC, Cordova also has to raise 100,000 mangrove seedlings in a nursery within one year and plant them in any potential aeras and make sure at least 25 per cent survive.

The ECC was issued to Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy as the project proponent.

In recent interviews, the mayor insisted the reclamation was a project of the Provincial Capitol, not Cordova town.

However, the ECC states that the local government has to set up marker buoys and containment nets to limit destruction to the marine eco system.

These requirements were given in the Impact Management Plan (IMP) of the Cordova Reclamation Project.

The IMP, however, didn’t require steps to counter the loss of corals.

“No mitigation in terms of coral cover (is needed) since the area is already degraded per survey conducted by the preparer,” said the IMP signed by officials of the DENR- Environment Management Bureau 7.

The 10-hectare reclamation project in Cordova functions as a port and its amenities is part of a larger 132-hectare reclamation plan that includes a 120-hectare “mini-Boracay” or artificial beach based on plans shown by Cordova town officials to fisherfolk.

The IMP, signed by William Cunado, officer-in-charge of the Environmental Impact Assesment Management Division, and retired EMB director Allan Arranguez, also suggested putting up marker buoys and containment nets to “limit destruction” in the area.

Sea grass where fish and seashell thrive is interconnected with mangroves and corals, said Prof. Rene Rollon of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman who is also an economist and an expert of the the Geographical Information System (GIS) said in a forum about the Cordova reclamation project last week.

He said the loss of sea grass would deeply damage the marine biodiversity in the area.

He said sea grass can’t be replanted and that restoring sea grass would be more costly than reclamation projects.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy, for his part, assured that the local government would comply with the requirement of the IMP and the ECC for the 10-hectare reclamation.

Sitoy said Cordova needed to use the port so they can earn revenue and pay for the P23-million loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines to develop the project.

The ECC of the 10-hectare project includes the development, installation and operation component of roads, ro-ro ramp, platform, rubber duck fender and concrete box culverts.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia said the province has the right to implement reclamation projects.

Garcia cited Section 17 of the Local Government Code and the Cebu Provincial Reclamation Authority that was created by a provincial ordinance.

“Actually, dili man unta gud mi motubag kay we all know why it’s getting a lot of noise… but actually that’s Cordova’s project.

The province can in fact, implement reclamation projects using its own funds,” she said.

Earlier, Provincial Planning Officer Engineer Adolfo Quiroga said development plans and the concept came from the municipality of Cordova but the reclamation of the area is being undertaken by the Cebu Provincial Government./Reporter Candeze R. Mongaya with a report from Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus

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