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Fish are jumping, but living not easy

October 25, 2006

By Leila Salaverria
Inquirer, Oct. 25, 2006

(Third of a series of an I-Team Report)

FISH ARE jumping, but the living is not easy on oil-smeared Guimaras.

Spooked by the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history following the sinking of the MT Solar I on Aug. 11 off the island-province, fishermen aren’t going after what used to be the main source of their livelihood.

“There seems to be a lot of fish visible actually now from the shoreline of Guimaras and the people are just looking at them,” says Rafael Coscolluela, presidential adviser for western Visayas who is in charge of recovery operations in the area.

“Not yet, they were told,” Coscolluela says.

The Department of Health issued warnings on food safety in the affected coastline after the Solar I sank in stormy waters off Guimaras while ferrying 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel oil for Petron Corp. from Bataan to Zamboanga.

A 24-member research team from Silliman University commissioned by Petron conducted a weeklong rapid assessment and found that the oil spill had polluted 184 kilometers of coastline, 1,141 hectares of the mangrove ecosystem and about 88 ha of seagrass beds in Guimaras alone. It also spoiled tourist resorts and polluted fish haunts.

Coral reefs do not appear to have been affected, the team reported. (Site administrator: An independent Seafdec report disputes this.)

(For the full story, Fish jumping.)

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