Archive for December, 2007

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P23.5M oil spill rehab fund released to Guimaras

December 20, 2007

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today,
Dec. 20, 2007

The provincial government of Guimaras recently received P23.5 million from Department of Agriculture (DA) as part of the national government’s oil spill rehabilitation fund. The fund is intended for the livelihood program of Guimaras residents affected by last year’s massive oil spill.

DA Regional Executive Director Larry Nacionales said the original budget request is P100 million but the national government reduced the funds to P65 million and later to P23.5 million.

The department and the provincial government of Guimaras have already forged a memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding the turn-over of funds. The fund is specifically intended for livelihood programs such as vegetable farming, livestock and coconut production.

Nacionales said the provincial government must abide with the MOA. They could not divert the fund from any other projects. The projects are specific in order to avoid any duplications from regularly funded projects of the government.

The director failed to give the exact figures of the beneficiaries and on what municipality has the bigger slice of the fund. The beneficiaries of the project were identified by the municipal government units in the province, said Nacionales.

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South Korea Cleans Up Big Oil Spill

December 10, 2007

By CHOE SANG-HUN
New York Times
Dec. 10, 2007

SEOUL, Dec. 9 — Thousands of fishermen, soldiers and volunteers struggled on Sunday to clean up the worst oil spill in South Korea’s history, an environmental disaster that has blackened once-scenic beaches, coated birds and oysters in sludge and driven away tourists with its stomach-churning stench.

Some 7,000 people have been mobilized to cope with the worst oil spill in South Korea’s history, including these workers in Taean.
But 7,000 people mobilized were too few to fight the oil slick, which has been washing up since Saturday along a 20-kilometer, or 12-mile, shoreline of the nation’s west coast. Strong tides, which dragged the sludge before pushing it ashore again, hampered the cleanup operations of villagers, who also complained of headaches and nausea from the stench.

The oil spill occurred a week after the South Korean port town of Yeosu won the right to host the 2012 Expo. Bidding for the international event, South Korea championed the theme of “the living ocean and coast,” a slogan it hoped would bolster marine environmental awareness in Asia.

The size of the oil spill was about one-fourth that of the 260,000 barrels, or 11 million gallons, leaked into Alaska’s Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez in 1989. It was twice as big as South Korea’s worst previous spill, in 1995, which cost 96 billion won, or $101 million, in damages to fishermen and months-long cleanup operations.

(Click Sokor spill for the rest of the story.)

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P35M oil spill rehab fund released

December 7, 2007

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today,
Dec. 7, 2007

The national government recently released P35 million for the province of Guimaras as part of its oil spill rehabilitation fund. The P35 million is the second trance of funds released for the province. Last year P5 million was released.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Director Teresita Rosales said the P35 million is part of the fund intended by the national government for the rehabilitation of the island-province which was affected by last year’s oil spill.

Of the P35 million, P18 million will go to the cash for work program, P10 million for the livelihood program, P2.4 million for the salaries of community facilitators and the remaining P4.6 million will go the administrative cost.

The fund for the cash for work program will be turned over to the Guimaras provincial government while the livelihood fund will be released to the five municipalities affected by the oil spill.

Rosales said the department along with the provincial and municipal mayors in Guimaras would sign a memorandum of agreement on how to implement the program covered by such funding. The MOA will be signed on December 18, 2007.

She explained that the MOA provides that the DSWD has the right to terminate or take back the project covered by such funding should the municipal government or recipients of the program violate what is stipulated in the program of work. The fund should be spent in the program of work and not on anything else, Rosales said.

In the same MOA, the local government is required to submit a monthly liquidation of whatever funds they received out of the oil spill rehabilitation funding. The department will also conduct inspection among the projects particularly in livelihood aspect, said Rosales.

In the livelihood fund, the municipality of Nueva Valencia which is hardly hit by the oil spill will receive P5 million, Sibunag P1.8 million, San Lorenzo P1.4, Buenavista P1.2 and P600,000 for Jordan.

Rosales said the MOA would serve as a guide to ensure the implementation of projects covered by the release and same time it will serve as guide on how to do the implementation of the oil spill rehabilitation program.

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Fish abundance in Guimaras waters dropped 65%

December 7, 2007

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
The News Today,
Nov. 5, 2007

Marine scientists have recorded a 65 percent drop in fish abundance from the waters of Guimaras following last year’s massive oil spill that ravaged the island-province.

Dr. Wilfredo Campos, president of the Philippine Association of Marine Science (PAMS), said the studies conducted from two weeks after the oil spill until this year, showed the marked decline in fish abundance in the waters of Guimaras.

The findings of a research team headed by Campos was presented during the 9th National Symposium in Marine Science of the PAMS held in Iloilo City on October 24-26.

The studies showed a drop in fish density, biomass and diversity compared to the figures recorded in the same areas in 2001.

Fish density dropped from 1.5 grams per sq meter in 2001, to .8 in 2006 while biomass dropped from 26.5 g/sq m in 2001 to 9.3 in 2006. Fish diversity also was lower from 48.2 in 2001 to 35.8 in 2006.

Campos said the low figures were consistent in the 500-square-meter monitoring stations located in six sites in Barangay Tando and at the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, both in Nueva Valencia town.

The areas are among the hardest hit by the oil spill after the M/T Solar I sank 13 nautical miles off Guimaras on Aug. 11, 2006, spilling almost 2 million liters of bunker fuel into the sea and triggering one of the country’s worst environmental disasters.

The findings scientifically validate the observations and complaints of fisherfolks and residents in affected areas that their fish catch has substantially decreased following the oil spill.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and mangrove experts have also recorded the dying of at least 600 mature mangrove trees in Guimaras. Mangroves serve as breeding and feeding grounds of fishes.

Scientists have earlier said that the long-term and full impact of the oil spill on marine life in Guimaras would only be known after many years and would require continuous monitoring.

Campos said the oil spill could be the main reason for the drastic drop in fish volume in the affected areas. But he said they had expected that the impact on fishes would have been short-term because the mature ones could have had evaded the oil spill by swimming away from the affected areas.

“This could also be caused by other factors that we need to study further because the low figures are still there a year and a half after the oil spill,” Campos said in an interview.

He said other reasons could include, unregulated fishing, dynamite and other illegal forms of fishing.