Almost P1M per year! 210.73 x 4,500 sq.m. = P948,285 x 250 years of rehab = P237,071,250
The Tubbataha & Environmental Concerns
Outline: Tubbataha and Environmental Concerns:*Backgrounder: - Philippines as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity" - Palawan : The Philippines last biodiversity frontierTubbataha and its rich marine resources - Geographical Location - Formation - History - Biodiversity
II. The Grounding Incident - Location of the Grounding - Damaged Area - Environmental Laws - Possible Impacts on the Marine EcosystemIII. How Long would it Take to Rehabilitate the Reef?IV. Some Updates since the Grounding IncidentV. Recommendations
Philippines as as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity"• The Philippines, comprised of more than 7,000 distinct islands, is situated in one of the worlds most coral-rich areas.• International marine scientists in 2006 have regarded the Philippines as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity" in the world, surpassing the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.• With more than 9,600 square miles of reef systems, the Philippines are home to nearly 9 percent of the worlds total reef area.
Philippines as as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity"• Philippine reefs boast 421 of the 577 known species of coral, as well as 19 seagrass species and 30 species of mangrove, both of which contribute nutrients to coral systems. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/list-philippine-coral-reefs- 63031.html• among the best marine sanctuaries in the country is the Verde Island Passage located between Batangas and Mindoro island which has been declared as the "Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity," where a vast species of fish can be found (Marine biologist Dr. Kent Carpenter, coordinator of the Global Marine Species Assessment of the World Conservation Union)
Philippines as as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity"Coral Triangle:• The Sulu-Sulawesi corridor at the sea border between the Philippines and Indonesia is the heart of the so-called "Coral Triangle," connecting the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea that boasts of a great variety of species of marine resources.• The Coral Triangle has 600 species of corals, 1,200 species of finfishes, 700 species of algae, 33 species of mangrove, five out of seven known species of sea turtles, and at least 24 species of crustaceans.• Results from the preliminary geographical information system (GIS) analysis made by Carpenter and Springer, however, revealed that from the 2,983 combined ranges of generalized maps of marine species in the Coral Triangle, the central Philippines came out as the area with the highest marine biodiversity.
Philippines as as the "Center of Marine Biodiversity"• The area between Malaysia and Sumatra, Indonesia only came in second, according to the study by Carpenter and Springer.• Some studies have identified Indonesia as the area with the highest coral reef fish diversity, but Carpenter and Springer’s findings pointed out that Indonesia might have greater marine biodiversity because of its bigger area, but the Philippines has a higher concentration of species per unit area.• Scientists, however, warned the Philippine government that the rapid deterioration of the country’s marine resources could destroy the nation’s natural heritage.• The Philippines has the international obligation (to protect and conserve its rich marine biodiversity because) if these species are lost, then the rest of the world will also be affected
Palawan : The Philippines’ Last Biodiversity Frontier • Rich in teeming jungles, tousled mangrove swamps and vibrant coral reefs, Palawan is truly one of the best examples in Asia of a species-rich, biologically diverse ecosystem. In fact, the variety of flora and fauna found in this region has intrigued ecologists and conservationists for generations; Palawan is home to 232 endemic species, one of the highest densities of unique species in the world.• Palawan is often called the Philippines “last biodiversity frontier” because it still retains more than 50 percent of its original forest cover, and harbors vast stretches of old growth forests on its mountainous slopes.
Palawan :The Philippines’ Last Biodiversity Frontier Palawan was declared a Biosphere Reserve by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1990. Palawan is also home to two World Heritage sites — the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which includes the world’s longest navigable underground river, and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, the spectacular, uninhabited coral reef atolls
Reef Systems Protected by InternationalTreaty• Several of the Philippines critical and unique coral reef systems are protected by international treaties such as the United Nations World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.(The Convention on Wetlands of InternationalImportance, called the Ramsar Convention, is anintergovernmental treaty that provides theframework for national action and internationalcooperation for the conservation and wise use ofwetlands and their resources.)
The globally recognized ecosystems in thePhilippines are:Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Ramsar site;Palawan Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO BiosphereReserve; Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve, UNESCOBiosphere Reserve; Puerto Princesa SubterraneanRiver National Park, UNESCO World Heritage site;Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, UNESCO WorldHeritage site; and Tubbataha Reefs National MarinePark, Ramsar site.http://traveltips.usatoday.com/list-philippine-coral-reefs-63031.html
I. Tubbataha and Its Rich Marine ResourcesThe name Tubbataha is a Samal word for "long reefexposed at low tide". Samals are seafaring people of theSulu Sea. Cagayanen (residents of Cagayancillo) people whoare more geographically associated with Tubbataha Reefsreferred the Park as gusong.It is composed of two uninhabited atolls and a reef withbustling reef platforms that are submerged in most parts.The North Islet, South Islet and Jessie Beazley Reef.
Geographical Location Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea and falls under the political jurisdiction of Cagayancillo, an island municipality situated 130km to the north. The park is around 150km (80 nautical miles) southeast of Puerto Princesa City - capital of the Province of Palawan - the usual jump-off point for visitors and dive boats going to Tubbataha.
Geographical Location The North Islet, oblong-shaped, 16 kilometers long and 4.5kilometers wide encloses a lagoon of sand and corals with a maximum of 30 meters in depth. The South Islet is a triangular reef structure about five kilometers long and three kilometers wide with a lagoon 21 meters at the deepest section. Jessie Beazley Reef, which lies about 13 nautical miles from the atolls, has an area of 45 hectares with a small islet made of marl exposed during low tide. The boundaries of TRNP are located three nautical miles from the edge of those marine formations.
Geographical Location It is located within the Northern apex of the Coral Triangle. The system is part of the Coral Triangle that encompasses, in addition to the Philippines, the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The triangle, which covers 1.6 billion acres, contains 75 percent of the world’s coral species. Reachable only by scuba diving live aboard boats leaving from the province of Palawan -journey takes 10 to 12 hours and is only attempted from mid-march to mid-June.
FormationThe coral atolls of Tubbataha and Jessie Beazleybegan to form thousands of years ago as fringingreefs of volcanic islands along the Cagayan Ridge.Over millennia - as the volcanoes became extinct andthe islands sunk into the ocean depths - only thecorals remained and they continued to grow upwardstowards the sunlight.
HistoryTubbataha is well known to fishermen of the southernPhilippines but until the late 1970s, Cagayanons were theprimary users of the reefs resources. During the summer, theywould make fishing trips to Tubbataha in fleets of traditionalwooden sailboats.“Tubbatahas isolation and its susceptibility to harsh weatheronce protected it from over-exploitation. But by the 1980s,fishermen from other parts of the Philippines started exploitingTubbataha in motorized boats, many using destructive fishingtechniques to maximize their catch.” (WWF)
HistoryIn 1988 - in response to a vigorous campaign by Philippinescuba divers and environmentalists alike - PresidentCorazon Aquino declared Tubbataha a National MarinePark - fishing within the park boundaries was made illegaland the reefs ceased to be under such a constant barrageof unimpeded destruction. Presidential Proclamation 306issued by President Corazon Aquino on August 11, 1988established the 33,200-hectare no-take Tubbataha ReefNational Marine Park (TRNMP).It was expanded to include Jessie Beazley Reef byPresident Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on August 23, 2006through Presidential Proclamation 1126 and renamed theTubbataha Reefs Natural Park.Today, TRNP is 97,030 hectares and stands as the country’sonly marine protected area inscribed in the UNESCO WorldHeritage List.
Biodiversity Encompassing 97,000 hectares, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is one of the greatest Philippine natural treasures. The atoll reefs of Tubbataha are also home to thousands of marine species that attract scuba diving tourists and researchers from all over the world to revel in the underwater wonders that this unique marine park offers. Tubbataha has often been dubbed as a Mecca of Philippine diving
BiodiversityBut it goes beyond being a spectacular underwater world. Consideringthat only 5% of the country’s coral reefs are in excellent condition,protecting Tubbataha contributes to food security for millions whodepend on Philippine seas for food and livelihood.Its global ecological importance is recognized as studies show that it isa source of larvae for the fishing grounds and coral reefs around theSulu Sea (U.P. Visayas 2010).Tubbataha produces at least 200 tons of seafood per squarekilometer. This is 5 times greater than the productivity of an ordinaryhealthy reef. The waters of Tubbataha are also the seeding andgrowth area of the fish stocks of Palawan and the Visayas. Withoutthis protected area, fish would not have the opportunity to grow tomaturity and repopulate other areas.
BiodiversityTubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home tono less than: The park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral· 573 species of fish reef, lying at the heart of· 379 species of corals (about half of all the Coral Triangle - thecoral species in the world) centre of global marine· 11 species of sharks biodiversity.· 12 species of dolphins & whales· Nesting Hawksbill & Green sea turtles· Over 100 species of birdsIt is home to over 20,000 breedingseabirds. Up to 8,000 black noddies(which are critically-endangered species)
A no-take zone.[A no-take zone is an area set aside by the government whereno extractive activity is allowed. Extractive activity is any actionthat removes, or extracts, any resource. Extractive activitiesinclude fishing, hunting, logging, mining, and drilling.–National Geographichttp://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/no-take-zone/?ar_a=1]
[In 2007, the University of the Philippines in the Visayasconducted a study on the distribution and dispersal offish larvae in the Sulu Sea.The study reveals that Jessie Beazley and TubbatahaReefs are sources of coral and fish larvae, seeding thegreater Sulu Sea. This is of huge significance, since thePhilippines - the second largest archipelago in the world- relies heavily on its marine resources for livelihood andfood.]
“Tubbataha North Islet or Bird Isle spans 12,435 square meters andhosts over 200 trees, many shorn and pitted by seabirds. The scrubbylandscape rises no higher than two meters above the sea. Parola or South Islet is much smaller, at 3,140 square meters. A meter-high concrete wall, well weathered by the elements, forms a protectivering against erosion, while a solar-powered lighthouse erected in 1980by the Philippine Coast Guard stands sentinel over all. About 120 treesdot the grassy landscape. East of the lighthouse lies the rusting hulk ofthe Del San, an old log carrier.Both atolls form rookeries or breeding sites for six species of seabirds,including the critically endangered Philippine subspecies of the blacknoddy (Anous minutus sub. worcestri), fewer than 8,000 of whichsurvive.” (Gregg Yan)
Some Facts about Coral Reefs:Coral reefs have endured for many millennia and appearto be hardy at first glance.In fact, corals are extremely fragile, are among themost endangered ecosystems in the world, and easilyaffected by slight changes in their environment.Many of the world’s coral reefs are experiencingthreats not just from natural events but also, moresignificantly, as a direct result of human activities. Unless drastic measures are taken, more than half ofthem will disappear in the next 15 years.The coral reefs of the Philippines are a prime exampleof an endangered marine ecosystem.
Some Facts about Coral Reefs:As ocean temperatures rise, the effect is seen in massive die-offs of coralreefs all over the world. The result is a visible bleaching of the existingcoral, the death of polyps and the disappearance of marine species in thearea. However, the most significant challenges in coral systemconservation are destructive human activities.Over-zealous and destructive fishing practices are threatening both thediversity and abundance of fish populations that live in the reefs. Some ofthese practices are over-fishing, cyanide poisoning, and the use ofdynamite, which permanently damage the reefs.Deforestation, increased agriculture, mining, urbanization and mangrovedestruction also cause damage indirectly as harmful sediment is washedfrom the soil and into the sea. The release of household and industrialwastes directly into the sea causes untold destruction due to chemicalpoisoning of the reefs.
Some Facts about Coral Reefs:When coral reefs die, such as after bleaching due to warmsummers, most reef inhabitants die as well, or simply leave thegrounds. This is because the corals do not only provide a livingspace, but are also a key food source for many species such as fishand nudibranches. http://www.coralscience.org/main/articles/biochemistry-2/how-reefs-grow
ManagementThe Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) is the multi-sector body that formulates policies for Tubbataha. Established in 1999, it ismade up of a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sector.The Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) - based in Puerto Princesa City -serves as its TPAMBs executive arm, carrying out day-to-day parkmanagement.These Two Management Bodies Protect Tubbataha in a Number of Ways· Law enforcement· Conservation management· Regular ecosystem research and monitoring· Information & education programs on local, national and international levels· Supporting the municipality of Cagayancillo - which has political jurisdictionover Tubbataha - in their coastal resource management
ManagementThe Park is under the management of the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB)composed of the following members:Governor, representing PCSD, Co-ChairpersonRegional Executive Director of Region IV-B of the DENR, Co-ChairpersonHouse of Representative, 1st District of PalawanHouse of Representative, 2nd District of PalawanOffice of the Governor, PalawanMayor, Cagayancillo, MemberChair, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Cagayancillo SB, MemberProvincial Board Chairman, Committee on Environment & Natural Resources, MemberProvincial Board Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, MemberCommander, Western Command, MemberCommander, Naval Forces West, MemberDistrict Commander, CGD-Pal, MemberExecutive Director, Philippine Commission on Sport Scuba Diving, MemberProvincial Officer, BFAR, MemberPresident, Palawan State UniversityPresident, Western Philippines UniversityPresident, WWF-Philippines, Member (NGO)Executive Director, Conservation International, Member (NGO)Chairperson, Saguda Palawan, Member (NGO)Tambuli ta mga Kagayanen, Member (People’s organization)
The Grounding IncidentAt 4 am Thursday, January 17, the rangers monitored on its radar a shipthat the 68-meter long U.S. Navy warship entered Tubbataha withoutproper park clearance, and accidentally ploughed into the northwesternportion of Parola or South Islet.The US Navy, in a statement dated January 19, indicated that navigationalcharts that misplaced Tubbataha’s location may have caused thegrounding.79-man detail evacuated-the 1,300-ton Avenger-class minesweeper is still stuck on the reef, itswood-and-fiberglass hull breached and taking a pounding with big waves
An official of theTubbataha Reefs NaturalPark, Angelique Songo,explained that theamount of damage tothe coral would bedetermined by a jointteam of the USSGuardian and personnelfrom the marine park.Songco estimated aboutP12,000 per sqm ofdestroyed reefs.
Damaged AreaAccording to preliminary surveys, the area damaged by the USS Guardian spansat least 1,600 square meters, almost twice the area flattened by the USS PortRoyal in Hawaii in 2009.Tubbataha Reefs Park Superintendent Angelique Songco says that underRepublic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009, a fine ofabout $600 or P24,000 per square meter is mandatory, half for actual damageand half for rehabilitation efforts.After few days, the estimated damage was increased to 4500 square meters.(There’s unconfirmed information from our sources that the damage wasalready about ½ hectare because of the continuous pounding of the ship againstthe reef.)
Damaged AreaHawaii Grounding:February 5, 2009, the USS Port Royal, a guided missile cruiser, ran aground nearthe Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii. About 890 square meters of coralreef were destroyed.Because of much protests especially in the media, the U.S. Navy promised topay the State of Hawaii $8.5 million to settle claims over coral reef damage, plusanother $6.5 million for reef restoration, including the reattachment of 5,400coral colonies to expedite regrowth. The total assistance provided by the U.S.Navy amounted to $15 million, about P610 million.But Songco says the Philippines is not planning to ask the U.S. government morethan $600,000 or P24 million, a miniscule amount compared with the $15million or P600 million paid by the U.S. Navy for its 2009 grounding incident.
Laws ViolatedSeveral sanctions could be imposed on the ship for committing thefollowing violations of the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park Act of2009:Unauthorized entry (Section 19);Damages to the reef (Section 20);Non-payment of conservation fees (Section 21);Destroying and disturbing resources (Section 26); andObstructing law enforcement (Section 30)
As a signatory to various international conventions, the Philippines iscommitted to protect the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and WorldHeritage Site. Some of these treaties are:The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) of 1971 aims to stem theloss of wetlands worldwide especially those that are important for migratorywaterfowl. It defines wetlands as fresh, brackish and saltwater marshes,including marine waters up to six meters in depth at low tide and any deepermarine waters contained within the wetland area. The Tubbataha Reefs wasincluded in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance onNovember 12, 1999.- World Heritage Convention (Convention Concerning the Protection of theWorld Cultural and Natural Heritage) of 1972 seeks to create internationalsupport for the protection and maintenance of sites demonstrating outstandingcultural and natural heritage. All 187 Parties to the World Heritage Conventionassumes an obligation to identify, protect, conserve and transmit to futuregenerations their unique cultural and natural heritage. Tubbataha was inscribedin the World Heritage List on December 11, 1993.
- Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992 seeks the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components. It provides for the establishment of protected areas where special measures are to be taken to conserve biological diversity and the protection of ecosystems, natural habitats and the maintenance of viable populations of species in natural surroundings.- The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED or the Earth Summit) of 1992 stipulates in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 (Protection of the Oceans) that partner States shall undertake “measures to maintain biological diversity and productivity of marine species under national jurisdiction...including...establishment and management of protected areas.”- The 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which aims toregulate all marine activities in any area of the sea and “provides legal basisupon which to pursue the protection and sustainable development of themarine environment and its coastal resources”.
The Philippine Government has enacted laws that call for the protection ofbiodiversity and land/seascapes through the following instruments:- Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) provides for genuine and meaningful local autonomy of territorial and political subdivisions of the State to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. It requires all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate LGUs, non-government and people’s organizations, and other concerned sectors of the country before any project or program is implemented in their jurisdiction.- Republic Act No. 7611 (Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan of 1992) provides the framework for the sustainable development of Palawan compatible with protecting and enhancing natural resources and the endangered environment.- Republic Act No.7586 (National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992) aims to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas.
- Republic Act 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998) ensures rational and sustainable development, management, and conservation of the fishery and aquatic resources in Philippine waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone and within adjacent high seas. It guarantees the conservation and protection of the country’s fishery and aquatic resources to achieve food security.- Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001) conserves and protects wildlife species and their habitats to promote ecological balance and enhance biological diversity. It also aims to pursue, with due regard to the national interest, the Philippine commitment to international conventions, regulate the collection and trade in wildlife, and initiate or support scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity. The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is the key implementer of this law as it applies to Palawan.- Republic Act 10067 (TRNP Act of 2009) provides for the protection and conservationof the globally significant economic, biological, socio-cultural, educational andscientific value of the Tubbataha Reefs into perpetuity for the enjoyment of thepresent and future generations.
Possible Impacts on the Marine Ecosystem:• Immediate impact from the grounding is the disruption of the marine ecosystem• death of coral species and organisms in the damaged partwhen the health of the coral is threatened, the existence of every otherspecies is threatened, too.• the shock could have disturbed reproduction of turtles and other marine life, as well as the breeding patterns of the black noddies (critically-endangered birds) in the “Parola”• displacement of habitat• possible oil spills, debris and pollutants from the ship could harm marine life• two of the park’s 15 diving sites would be closed during the diving season because of the salvaging operations
Possible Impacts on the Marine Ecosystem: -As a source of larvae for the fishing grounds and coral reefsaround the Sulu Sea (U.P. Visayas 2010), as a producer of atleast 200 tons of seafood per square kilometer (5 timesgreater than the productivity of an ordinary healthy reef(which produces 40 metric tons), and as a seeding andgrowth area of the fish stocks of Palawan and the Visayas;this would mean the demise of economics dependent on thereefs.- Coral polyps absorb CO2 to form their shells. With lesscorals, the ocean absorbs less carbon dioxide, leaving morein the atmosphere.
ASSESSING THE DAMAGE TO THE NATURAL HERITAGEPorfirio Aliño, Ph.D., Miledel Christine Quibilan, Renmar Martinez, Ma. Antoinette Juinio-MeñezUP Marine Science Institute
If there’s 200 tons per square kilometer average yield per day, 200 tonsX 907.184 kilograms---------------------------------- 181,436.80 kilograms per sq.km.X .0045 square kilometers (4,500 sq.m.)--------------------------------- 816.4656 kilos per dayX P60 per kilo------------------------------------ P48,987.94 per dayX 365 days (1 year)------------------------------------- P 17,880,598.10 per yearX 250 years of rehabilitation---------------------------------------- P 4.47015e+9 (447 Billion)
According to Burke, Selig & Spalding (2002):The potential sustainable economic net benefits per year from coral reefsin the Philippines is equivalent to 1.1 Billion USD. 1.1 Billion USDX .09 (Tubbataha Reef comprised of 9% of the total PH reefs)------------------------------------------------------------------------- 90,000,000 USD (Possible yield of the Tubbataha Reef per year)X .02 (percentage of damage to coraline area of 2,546 ha)------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1,800,000 USDX 41 PhP------------------------------------------------------------------------- P 73,800,000 per year
How Long would it Take to Rehabilitate the Reef?It is important, first, to know what kinds of corals were damaged,the extent of damage and external conditions that would affectthe coral growth.… Because Corals grow at different rates depending on watertemperature, salinity, turbulence, and the availability of food.Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitatedwaters. - Generally, there are hard and soft corals- The massive corals are the slowest growing species, addingbetween 5 and 25 millimeters (0.2–1 inch) per year to theirlength.
Examples of common corals foundin Tubbataha (based on touristphotos):- Branching and Staghorn corals can grow much faster, adding as much as 20 centimeters (8 inches) to their branches each year. http://www.coral.org/resources/about_co ral_reefs/coral_overview - The stony skeleton of Acropora pulchra takes on various forms. It is a branching species, sometimes being tree-like and forming thickets and in other locations forming tangled colonies with level upper surfaces. The branches are up to 12 mm (0.5 in) in diameter and up to 18 cm (7 in) long. Often the whole colony spreads horizontally and is no more than 5 cm (2 in) thick. The growth habit largely depends on where the coral is growing inSweetlips beneath a table coral, Tubbataha Reef, Philippineshttp://divehappy.com/philippines/tubbataha-reef-liveaboard-diving-trip- relation to the tide levels. (Wikipedia)report-june-2011/
- Some stony corals may grow about 5 mm (0.2 inches) each month, while others such as deep water corals may grow much slower. http://www.coralscience.org/main/articles/biochemistry- 2/how-reefs-grow- Black coral colonies are slow-growing so it will take them over 100 years to re-grow and flourish once more. (BFAR)- - Healthy coral reefs grow horizontally from 1 to 3 centimetres (0.39 to 1.2 in) per year, and grow vertically anywhere from 1 to 25 centimetres (0.39 to 9.8 in) per year; however, they grow only at depths shallower than 150 metres (490 ft) due to their need for sunlight, and cannot grow above sea level. Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_reef#…- Corals reefs are formed by the combined forces of billions of tiny invertebrate animals – the coral polyps. Coral polyps are connected by each other by common tissue called coenosarc. Coral species have guts that are connected together, allowing them to share nutrients.
Some Updates since the Grounding Incident:• Salvaging Operations. Target date to complete the salvaging operation is on March 23. The deck of the ship was already removed Feb 27. Other accomplishment includes dismantling the funnel and the mast and removing navigational equipment and controls. Bad weather disrupted the salvaging operations. They are now targeting the 2nd level of the US minesweeper.• There was a press release in Inquirer last March 3 that there will be an investigating team to assess the reef on April. The new diver-researchers are Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco, Noel Bundal from TMO, Gregg Yan, Dylan Melgazo and Darius Cayanan from WWF, and Julius Parcon from (Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP).• Philippine Coast Guard said in a press interview that observers would be allowed only 500 meters away from the salvaging area and that taking pictures are not allowed.
Recommendations:• We need to know the concrete facts in able to address it scientifically. This starts with having access to the problem and asking the right questions.• The people have the right to know. We must ought for transparent procedures, as this is an issue of destruction of marine resources, food security, violation of our archipelago’s integrity and sovereignty – not a security issue of the US.• Conflict of interests should be avoided as much as possible to come out with the best and most scientific results. The perpetrators should be eliminated from the scene, first, instead of having them investigate themselves. There should be a truly independent investigating team.
Recommendations:• It is best to involve our best reef experts, marine ecologists and grassroots-based organizations to form a technical working committee/group to assess the situation and to propose plans for reef rehabilitation.• Ideally, there should be an impact assessment before and after the salvaging procedures as it might cause further damage to the reef & disruption to marine life, and could cause oil spills, debris and pollutants as well. Typically in our procedures, there are certain processes involved for the Environmental Impact Assessment and the DENR has the hand on it. Otherwise, it would be awkward for an environment agency to be silent in this issue.• Therefore, government agencies such as the DENR and the BFAR should be pushed to perform their responsibilities in protecting the environment and our marine resources.
Recommendations:• Grassroots involvement. As, we believe, the locals and the small fisherfolks are the most sincere in protecting the marine resources because it means life to them. They also have the practical knowledge on how to protect these resources.
Recommendations: To prevent incidents like this, some scientists recommend to work ona precise mapping of the area. NAMRIA maps might also help. (Butour interview with a veteran ship navigator revealed that mapping isjust a secondary issue – because ships have radars. High-techminesweepers must have better facilities.)Respect on Marine Protected Areas (no warships should be allowed toenter). Some marine scientists, as well as the TubbatahaManagement, recommend exploring the options of declaring the SuluSea as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). Applying for thedesignation of Sulu Sea as a PSSA, however, is an action that has to beundertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and will require theapproval of the International Maritime Organization.But what matters most, MPA or PSSA, is how we implement ourpolicies to protect our natural resources. Philippine authorities shouldavoid “double standards.”
Recommendations:There should be environmental justice. Sovereign laws should beupheld. Remember that international laws are generally acceptedprinciples “between”—NOT “above” -- states.We should also look for stronger and clearer laws and strictimplementation by responsible agencies. Aside from the TubbatahaReef Natural Park Act of 2009, we have no sufficient laws coveringsuch incident.Tubbataha is a no-take zone. If a small motored boat gets in there, itcould have been confiscated by the management. Why not do thesame with the USS Guardian?
Recommendations: Environmentalists should also work on the abrogation of the VisitingForces Agreement (VFA) because it endangers our marineenvironment to nuclear, oil and toxic wastes that the US warshipscould have brought in the country. Citing the dumping of wastes inSubic Bay by a US ship a few months ago, marine life would be moresusceptible to toxic pollutants and degradation.US Navy ships also use low-frequency acoustic sonars that could beharmful to marine life because it disrupts dolphins and whales’echolocation abilities and migratory patterns, could cause internalorgan rupture and bleeding, massive stranding, and deaths. Theirpresence is a clear threat.
Recommendations: This should NOT stop with a political statement… Thisstruggle should go on until rehabilitation and until thereare threats to our natural resources.
SAVE OUR COASTAL RESOURCES! SAVE TUBBATAHA!UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY OF OUR COUNTRY! JUNK VFA!
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