New dredge floaters ruin coral reef off Zambales
IBA, Zambales—A new set of a dredge floater assembly that local fishermen found in the Zambales sea on Friday reached the coastline of Barangay Sto. Rosario here on Sunday morning, but not everyone was thrilled.
Some residents were dismayed over the towing of the floaters along shallow waters, saying the device damaged a portion of a coral reef and blocked their way to the sea.
“It’s wrong to tow these floaters to shallow waters. Look what happened—some of our coral reefs had been damaged,” fisherman Alvin Calimlim, 35, told the Inquirer.
He said residents here rely on fishing in the shallow waters for years and the damaged coral reefs would cost them their livelihood.
“What will happen to fishermen like us who can’t venture into the open sea? These floaters should be immediately removed from here or else we will suffer,” Calimlim said.
His elder brother, Ronnie, 49, said the floaters did not only ruin portions of coral reefs but made their fishing trips difficult.
“We also have our own small fishing boats and as long these huge floaters remained stuck along our shoreline, we’ll have difficulty going to the sea,” Ronnie said.
About 30 fishermen on their way back to the shore on Friday found the kilometer-long assembly some 16 km from this capital town’s coastline.
Efren Medrano, chair of the Lanao-Bangan Fishermen’s Association, said fishermen from Barangay Sto. Rosario began towing the floaters to shore on Saturday morning. The device reached the village’s shoreline at 6 a.m. on Sunday.
The floater assembly was similar to the device seen drifting some 5.5 km from the coastline of Cabangan town on July 24. The first set of floaters spanned a kilometer long and bore Chinese markings.
Floater assemblies are interlinked buoys and metal pipes used in a dredging equipment.
These may have drifted from the West Philippine Sea, which has become the site of Chinese reclamation activities, Erwin
de la Torre, a former executive of a company that manufactures dredging equipment, said in an earlier interview.
De la Torre said a floater assembly is attached to a dredging machine that sucks up sand from the bottom of the sea.
Fishermen tried to dismantle the floaters recovered earlier to sell these for scrap but were stopped by Zambales officials. The provincial government had secured these for possible use as evidence against reported Chinese intrusion into sections of the West Philippine Sea.
Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the provincial government would auction off the floaters, should no individual or group claims these, to raise funds for fishermen who lost their livelihood when personnel from Chinese vessels began stopping them from fishing in sections of the West Philippine Sea.
Ebdane has ordered the floaters to be kept and secured in the shores of San Agustin and Sto. Rosario villages here. Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon
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