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Mangroves, sea grass and oil spills

September 11, 2006

MANGROVE forests and sea-grass beds play an important role in marine biodiversity. Mangroves not only protect coasts from storms and tsunamis, but also serve as feeding sites and nurseries for fish, shrimps, crabs and other creatures.

Like mangroves, sea-grass beds support and harbor young fish, shrimps, prawns, crabs and sea cucumbers. They also serve as feeding ground for turtles and the endangered dugong.

However, the country’s mangrove forests and sea-grass beds face degradation. More than 70 percent of mangrove forests in the country have been cut, converted to fishponds or reclaimed for other uses, according to a World Bank report.

The report also found that “half of the sea-grass beds have either been lost or severely degraded, and the rate of degradation is increasing.”

The massive oil spill off Guimaras Island has destroyed 454 ha of mangroves, including most of the 46-ha mangrove forest on Taklong Island. The oil spill from M/T Solar I, which was loaded with 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel oil when it sank on Aug. 11, also has contaminated or destroyed 58 ha of seaweed farms.

Rehabilitation and recovery of marine life contaminated by the oil spill could take 10 to 20 years, according to scientists at the University of the Philippines Visayas.

(For the entire piece, click Mangroves, etc., Sept. 10. 2006.)

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