Beach resorts pollute Verde Island Passage

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03:20 AM May 27th, 2011

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TINGLOY ISLAND, Batangas, Philippines—Resorts without solid waste management facilities are threatening the highly biodiverse Verde Island Passage, environmentalists warn.

Romeo Trono, executive director of the local chapter of Conservation International (CI), said that while monitors had controlled cyanide and dynamite fishing, pollution from the resorts was damaging the sea.

Trono said that despite meetings with resort owners along Mabini and Tingloy towns, a number had not complied with waste regulations. Violators have been referred to local governments for appropriate charges, he said.

More than 70 resorts are registered in Mabini, but many more are unregistered. Some of the resorts are owned by Japanese and Korean investors.

Rina Bernabe, CI communications coordinator, said protected areas covering 17,076 hectares in the Verde Island Passage included 19 sites in Oriental Mindoro, 36 in Batangas (four in Mabini and one in Tingloy), and 15 on Lubang Island.

Trono said it was easier to deal with fisher groups because funding was minimal, compared with setting up solid waste management systems.

Matias Mendoza, 58, a boatman from Mabini, said dynamite fishing was rampant in the 1980s until the World Wildlife Foundation got into the picture in the 1990s and taught the fisherfolk to care for marine resources.

Wilfredo Licuanan, a professor from De La Salle University, said ships plying the area also were threatening the area.

Licuanan said fishing was no longer a problem because many fishers had moved to tourism because of the presence of dive spots.

A biodiversity expedition was mounted in the area this month to identify marine species.

Terrence Gosliner, the dean of Science and Research Collection at the California Academy of Sciences, said 30 foreign and Filipino scientists went deep-sea and shallow-water diving to find marine species and had gone up to the mountains to study forest organisms.

Gosliner said that in the past three weeks, the group had discovered 100 new marine species, including soft corals, eels and barnacles, that were still to be named.

He said he had been to the Philippines four times and every time he came, he found new species.

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