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Philippine News Digest 118

June 18, 2007 · 

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Contents:
-Fish cages blocking flow of river
-Oil exploration worries environmentalists
-Health secretary airs warning on rainy-day diseases

Fish cages blocking flow of river
By Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Posted date: June 21, 2007

ANDA, PANGASINAN—Officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources have asked the local governments of Anda and Bolinao to reestablish the navigation lane along the Kakiputan Channel that fish traps have encroached on.

The structures are obstructing water flow and have also contributed to water pollution in the area, they said.

BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento said the area was cleared of fishery structures after the massive fish kill in Bolinao in 2002, but these had returned, impeding water flow that could have led to the recent fish kill in this town.

“We reestablished a 200-meter wide navigation lane, but this has narrowed again because of the fishery structures,” he told the Inquirer.

Sarmiento and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on Tuesday inspected the area where a massive fish kill struck last week. At least P100 million worth of bangus (milkfish) was lost in the fish kill, local officials said.

Other officials estimate the losses at only P32 million.

Sarmiento said he would ask the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) to delineate the boundaries between the towns sharing the Kakiputan Channel to improve the management and use of the waters.

The channel is shared by Anda, Bolinao and Bani towns and Alaminos City.

Yap and Sarmiento asked Anda Mayor Nestor Pulido and Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste to exert more efforts in policing and managing the fishery area as “these are under their jurisdiction.”

They also asked the town officials to issue permits for the structures.

Operators of fish pens and cages acknowledged that they overstocked their structures with bangus and this may have contributed to the fish kill when the neap tide (lowest tide where water hardly moves or becomes stagnant) occurred last week.

He said the BFAR would meet with fishery officials and operators on Friday and discuss ways to effectively enforce regulations in the industry.

In Alaminos, agriculture office personnel dismantled last week six illegal fish traps near Alo Island. The structures were reportedly owned by fishermen from Anda.

Oil exploration worries environmentalists
By Jhunnex Napallacan
Inquirer
Last updated 03:43am (Mla time) 06/09/2007

CEBU CITY — An oil exploration project by an Australian firm in the Cebu-Bohol Strait before the end of the month has alarmed a local environmental group, which calls it a calamity “worse than a typhoon” for fishermen.

Vessels and fishers must stay 8.5 kilometers away from the exploration ship for about a month. Diving and swimming are also prohibited within 10 km from it.

The Environmental Legal Assistance Center (Elac) has warned the government of possible harm to the fishermen and to marine life in the strait. But the Department of Energy downplayed the apprehension that hundreds of fishermen in some coastal towns in Bohol and Cebu would be displaced.

Antonio Labios, DOE-Visayas director, also assured the public that the seismic survey—the first phase of the oil exploration—would not damage marine species and corals. The survey will determine the profile of the seabed for possible deposits of oil or gas.

The Arroyo administration is pursuing oil exploration as one of its programs to make the country energy-independent and lessen fuel importation. The Visayan Sea, especially the Tañon Strait (between western Cebu and Negros), the Cebu-Bohol Strait and the Cebu-Leyte Strait were reported to have an abundance of untapped oil or gas resources.

Last year, the Philippine government, through the Japan Petroleum Exploration, conducted a seismic survey at the Tañon Strait. Actual drilling is expected to be made later this year pending the release of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Health secretary airs warning on rainy-day diseases
Friday, June 22, 2007
Manila Bulletin Online

Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque III yesterday advised the public to be on alert against diseases associated with the rainy season, especially dengue and malaria, even as he dismissed reports of a malaria outbreak in Antipolo City.

“During the rainy season, there should be no surprise that dengue, malaria and other season- related diseases are on the rise,” Duque said.

The other day, health officials said despite the unusual surge in malaria cases in Antipolo, there was no outbreak of the disease in the city.

National Epidemiology Center (NEC) chief Dr. Eric Tayag said the malaria cases in the place “are consistent with the pattern of occurrence in areas where malaria is known to be endemic.”

Mosquitoes carrying malaria are usually found in swamps and remote areas.

Doctors recommend insecticide-treated mosquito nets and insect repellents to avoid mosquitoes.

To avoid dengue, Duque stressed the need to eliminate breeding grounds of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, such as old cans, tires, flower vases, pots, and other water containers.

The DoH chief also recommended insecticide- treated mosquito nets to ward off the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.

NEC revealed that the country has seen a steady rise of dengue cases since 2004. In 2006, NEC recorded the highest ever dengue incidence with a total of 36,991 cases.

Tayag said that four types of dengue strain are now circulating in the country.

Dengue strains 1,2,3, and 4 have been affecting victims that reached 6,172 from January to May this year alone.

-End-

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