‘Solutions must be based on science’

August 29, 2006

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

WORRIED by the long-term effects of the Guimaras oil spill on the environment, scientists on Monday warned that it is important to save the entire ecosystem now being threatened by the oil slick.

The Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Network, a group composed of population, health and environment advocates, expressed dismay over the “sluggish” response of the government in dealing with the oil spill and are calling for “Green Justice.”

The group said the situation at Guimaras is getting worse and the government must act quickly to prevent oil from oozing out of the sunken MT Solar 1 at the bottom of the Guimaras Strait, and quickly implement rescue, relief and rehabilitation to save the rich marine biodiversity in Western Visayas.

In a press briefing, Prof. Perry Ong of the UP Institute of Biology said the spill will continue to harm the environment, noting that thick oil that covers big portions of the seas like a giant blanket prevents photosynthesis, the process by which plants make food and live to feed other plants and animals, from taking place.

“If this happens, the microscopic plants will die and those that feed from them will also die. This will have a serious effect on the food chain. Eventually, people will have less food to eat,” he said.

Miriam Azurin-Abaja, a researcher of PHE, estimated P3 million to P5 million is lost to small fishermen in Guimaras and Iloilo. The Palupandan shrimp industry and the Valladolid anchovy industry, PHE said, also suffered severely, losing so far P50 million in investment each. A still undetermined amount of losses in pearl, seaweed, rice, fruit and tourism industries must also be considered.

Meanwhile, Joel Palma of the World Wide Fund cited the need to apply more science to solutions to the oil spill. He said scientists must come up with a long-term solution to disasters like oil spills, and the government can only do that by engaging scientists— particularly marine biologists—in coming up with a quick response to disasters.

(For the full story, click Business Mirror. Link good until today only.)


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