Dumaguete reclamation to kill marine life – experts
DUMAGUETE CITY—At least 200 species of fish, 200 species of corals and seven seagrass species will be lost if the ongoing reclamation activities along the coastline here continue.
A study of Dumaguete’s four marine-protected areas revealed that local fish catch like reef-based snappers, parrot fishes, surgeon fishes and wrasses; pelagic species like round and bigeye scads, mackerel tuna and sardines; and their habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses can collapse as reclamation project continues.
Common fish catch along the city’s 8-kilometer coast includes 100 species of macroinvertebrates, including sea urchins, locally known as “salawaki,” the study showed.
The preliminary results of marine habitat and biodiversity surveys commissioned by the Silliman University (SU) Alumni Association Inc., were conducted by marine scientists Dr. Aileen Maypa, Clarissa Reboton, Danielle Mark Fukuda and Dr. Janet Estacion of the SU Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences.
In 2021, the ambitious 174-hectare reclamation project for a multiuse complex pushed by the city government here was halted after several groups, including the SU-led “NoTo174Dumaguete Coalition,” have opposed the island-building along the city’s coastline.
At present, however, the marine experts noted that active reclamation continues through the extension of the city’s boulevard and port area, particularly along the Pantawan Dos section towards Barangay Tinago.
The study, released last week, recommends that instead of expanding the boulevard, the city and its residents will benefit from activities that will focus on “rehabilitation of water quality and degraded marine ecosystems, management of solid and liquid waste and marine biodiversity protection activities.”
They also noted that Dumaguete’s coast is a “functional fishing ground” and has a lot of potential for marine ecotourism.Citing data from the Dumaguete City Agriculture Office, annual fish production from 2019 to 2021 was estimated at 30 to 40 metric tons.
The scientists also recorded charismatic macroinvertebrates popular with scuba divers and snorkelers, such small shrimps and crabs.
“We appeal to the mayor of Dumaguete City, and to those who practice reclamation, to instead prioritize food security, resilience against the adverse impacts of rapid climate change through marine biodiversity protection and conservation, and sustainable development before our already-declining fish stocks and marine resources collapse,” the experts said. INQ