Damocles sword on nature

The first order of the day is for the government to ensure clean-up operations would minimize the damage and allow the people who depend on the riches of the sea to resume their normal activities.

As commercial activity in the Visayas region is expected to increase, environmental groups are worried that oil spills and other threats to marine life may become frequent occurrences.

Ecology groups cited the lingering devastation that the 2006 Guimaras oil spill had caused.

The incident was recorded as the worst oil spill in the country’s history after 500,000 liters of oil had leaked resulting in the toxic slick spreading up through the Guimaras Strait and Iloilo Strait.

It was considered a portrait of how oil spills can bring tragic consequences to humans and other living beings.

The recovery was long and arduous. Mangroves only began to show signs of recovery in 2019 or 13 years after the incident.

The incident should have been an eye-opener that transporting fossil fuels like oil brings with it the possibility of massive damage to the environment, a fact that the sinking of the M/T Princess Empress last week had made plain.

Concerns were raised due to the expected increase of tanker traffic in the area particularly in the vicinity of the Verde Island Passage, which straddles the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Batangas, Romblon and Marinduque.

The worry of the ecology warriors: More tankers plying these waters means higher chances that another such accident will occur, even if all precautions are taken.

The next accident might be bigger and irreparably damage VIP, which the environmentalists hope can be protected by making it off limits to vessels carrying toxic cargoes.

Faced with the current crisis as a result of the oil tanker that sank off Romblon, the central and local governments must work together to contain its backlash, particularly in the five provinces affected.

The MT Princess Empress, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil, was on its way from Limay, Bataan to Iloilo when it developed engine trouble and sank off Tablas Island, Romblon.

Industrial oil is a very potent poison to marine flora and fauna and will negatively impact food security specifically in the fisheries sector.

The oil spill exposes the rich bounty of VIP that would boomerang to the livelihood of residents in the area as fish may experience reduced growth and the turbid waters will make it harder for seagrasses and coral to flourish.

The estimated immediate economic effect of the marine disaster will be the loss of P12 billion in the lost income of residents and missed opportunities resulting from the contaminated waters.

The first order of the day is for the government to ensure clean-up operations would minimize the damage and allow the people who depend on the riches of the sea to resume their normal activities, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, convenor of Protect VIP, said.

More than 2 million Filipinos, such as fisherfolk and those in the tourism industry, depend on VIP’s biodiversity and resources. The VIP has been called the center of shore fish biodiversity.

Potential fish kills due to the oil spill may cause lesser fish stock than the already dwindled catch.

The oil spill exacerbates the existing issues faced by fisherfolks, who are among the poorest sector in the country.

Fish dipped in oil may translate to something debilitating rather than a special menu as food becomes unsafe for consumption and might even lead to food poisoning.

The impact of oil spills such as what Filipinos experienced in the Guimaras and the Oriental Mindoro incidents form a huge threat that hangs over the head of the nation.

The choice between protecting endangered marine life and the livelihood of small Filipinos should always take precedence against the profit goals of businesses.

Read more Daily Tribune stories at: https://tribune.net.ph/

Follow us on social media
Facebook: @tribunephl
Youtube: TribuneNow
Twitter: @tribunephl
Instagram: @tribunephl
TikTok: @dailytribuneofficial