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Project Sunrise reports on Guimaras

September 8, 2006

GUIMARAS Island is a popular tourist destination in the country with a coastal length of 188.58km. The attractions in Guimaras may be attributed to the conscious care and nurturing by its residents on the rich marine environment that engulfs the whole island – with total reef area of 23-square kilometers with live coral cover in good condition.

Care for the marine environment is seen in the 13 marine and mangrove reserves in the island, including the Taklong National Marine Reserve managed by the DENR that serves as a Biological Station for the Biology Division of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas. Mangroves are concentrated in the municipality of Nueva Valencia where eight out of ten mangrove stewardship agreements have been awarded.

By the last week of August, the Guimaras Oil Spill had already affected marine sanctuaries and mangrove reserves in three out of the only five municipalities in Guimaras, with Brgy. La Paz in Nueva Valencia as the hardest hit. According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council, it had reached two municipalities in Iloilo and one in Negros Occidental.

These have destroyed, with very little hope for recovery, 1,128 hectares of mangrove areas, covered 58 hectares of seaweed farms and 200 kilometers of coastline with thick sludgy oil.

By the end of August, there were already 254 reported cases of respiratory diseases, with four persons admitted to the Provincial Hospital of Guimaras, and affected the livelihood of 3,715 families in the island. The oil spill continues to threaten the two remaining municipalities in Guimaras, twenty-nine barangays in Iloilo including Iloilo City, 19 barangays of Negros Occidental. Worse, the rich fishing ground of the Visayan Sea supplies most of the fisheries demand of the entire country.

Other marine reserves and marine parks that may be affected include the Sebaste Marine Reserve, the Nagarao, Nauai and Ususan Marine Parks, and the Toyo Reef Marine Protected Area, all in Guimaras.

(For the rest of the report, click Report, Sept. 7, 2006, or go to the group’s web site Project Sunrise.)

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