DENR heightens Sarangani Bay watch
KORONADAL CITY –– Environment authorities in Sarangani province are stepping up their watch over the health of Sarangani Bay to avoid the tragedy that befell Boracay or Manila Bay.
Although the waters of Sarangani Bay are still safe for swimming, officials are not letting their guards down to have this quality maintained, said Sabdullah Abubacar, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 12.
Abubakar pointed to the need for intensified monitoring and greater public support to maintain, if not advance further, the conservation efforts for the bay.
Declared a protected area, the 215,950-hectare bay straddles the towns of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel and Maasim in Sarangani province, and General Santos City.
Apart from swimming, its pristine waters have also drawn tourists into the bay for water sports.
Sarangani Bay’s most popular destination is Glan, which has fine, white, sandy beaches in Gumasa district, touted as the “Boracay of the South.”
Gumasa hosts the annual Sarangani Bay festival, dubbed the biggest summer beach party in the country, attracting thousands of tourists.
The beach resorts thrive mostly on the Sarangani side along with industrial plants, such as tuna canning factories, on the side of General Santos City.
Abubacar said they are keeping a close watch on the beach resorts and other establishments so they follow regulations.
Of particular concern is the water quality of the bay, which is regularly checked by the Protected Area Management Board, the local government units and other stakeholders, he added.
Abubacar said Sarangani Bay was designated by the DENR in 2009 as a water quality management area, which makes it a priority focus in ensuring water quality.
Alex Jimenez, director of the Environmental Management Bureau-Region 12, said resorts and industrial companies were subjected to environmental impact assessments, providing them a guide in ensuring how operations would not contaminate Sarangani Bay.
“All the results of the tests we have conducted in all the beaches along the Sarangani Bay are good and we can assure the public that they are safe for swimming,” Jimenez added. /lzb
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