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Task force creates 6 teams to clean mangroves

November 10, 2006

THE Task Force SOS through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created six teams to handle immediate clean up of six areas endorsed by the Mangrove Assessment Teams.

The clean up will cover Punta Aragoy in Panobolon Island, Tamsik, Nueva Valencia Nadulao, Tagbak all in the province of Guimaras and Silagon, Ajuy, and Tagbak, Plandico, Concepcion in the province of Iloilo.

The six teams are composed of representatives from the local government unit in concerned barangays, the DENR, the Philippine Coast Guard, University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and ITOPF.

Activities planned for the clean was discussed during the meeting. The site visit will be done to assess what kind of intervention shall be done inside the mangrove and will be the basis of the Work and Financial Planning.

On November 15, the six teams will meet for the final clean up to start on November 20, 2006.

Julian D. Amador of the DENR said he would also invite Petron on the possible funding for the clean up activities since they had committed to help in this endeavor.

Amador also warned all the team members that manpower selected to do the clean up should be oriented first with the guidelines set by the DENR in the cleaning of the mangroves.

“We have the guidelines distributed to the six team leaders so that this will be followed throughout the clean up activities. Every team must have a DENR representative who shall see to it that guidelines are followed,” said Amador.

Among other considerations, the six teams will only apply first the physical clean up strategy and will not use any chemical or dispersant.

Under the physical clean up, cleaners should only include collection of debris coated with oil and other floating materials along the shoreline that impede the water current during inter tidal change.

Materials like plastics should be removed because it is very harmful to the saplings, seedlings and pneumatophores. Pneumatophores are the breathing parts of the mangroves. These should not be trampled. No cutting of parts or branches or even trunks of mangroves is allowed. Oil coatings from the bark of contaminated tree trunks should not be brushed off or scrape with sharp materials. Saplings and seedlings showing signs of withering should not be uprooted or removed.

Collected debris should be stocked in the landward portion and make sure they are not reached by tidal inundation and would not cause run-off during rainy season. The stockpile should be provided by a lining to avoid seepage and must be covered with tarpaulin. This will eventually be properly disposed.

Use of any kind of dispersant, bioremediation and implementation of other clean up measures shall be cleared with the Task Force SOS.

The mangrove ecosystem is a very fragile one. It is the spawning grounds of fishes and crustaceans including some shellfishes. Encroaching into the system should require careful moves or else, the rootstocks of the trees that serve as their breathing pores will be destroyed and will led to the death of the mangroves.

This is why at the onset of the oil spill, the Task Force SOS had agreed that this should not be touched because it was found out that some portions of the mangroves that were primarily cleaned, people had cut the branches and some tree trunks. It was stopped by the Task Force and had issued an advisory not to touch the mangrove areas.

The Task Force SOS also refrained the Philippine Coast Guard to apply oil dispersant in the mangrove area until the Bio Safety Committee can clear the oil dispersant to be used.

Amador said all safety precautions are being done to ensure the safety of the people living near the sea and some untoward effect to the marine life inside the mangrove areas. (RPAO, Sunstar Iloilo, Nov. 10, 2006)

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