OPPOSE THE CONTINUING ONSLAUGHT ON THE EARTH
“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable.” (Jeremiah 2:7)
We, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), express alarm over the wanton abuse of natural resources by the Transnational Mining Corporations (TNCs) with their local cohorts in South Luzon Region, especially in Bicol. The experience of the Bicolano people is no different from the plight of local communities in mining areas throughout the country: massive environmental destruction, shrinking economic base of the people, militarization of mining communities, displacement of communities due to land-grabbing and unjust land-conversion, gross human rights violations, destruction of flora and fauna, and further impoverishment of the country. The unresolved and ever continuing polymetallic mining operations in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay, Labo, Paracale, and Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, the aggressive mine expansion in Aroroy, Masbate by Filminera Resources Corp., the peculiar magnetite off-shore mining in Camarines Sur by Bogo Mining Resources Corp; the Palanog Cement Plant in Albay, Panganiban and San Andres, Catanduanes, and the deeper quagmire of maldevelopment of mining in Matnog, Sorsogon challenge us to rethink our role as responsible God’s stewards of creation ( Genesis 1: 26-31 ).
Destructive mining is blatantly unethical, unjust, and senseless for it exacerbates poverty, causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself.
It is lamentable that the national government equates TNC mining with development, and is remiss in its duties in protecting the environment to the detriment of the people. It has been proven that the negative costs of mining operations far outweigh the gains.
Thus, to further liberalize the mining industry in favour of the mining corporations as being trumpeted by the Aquino administration will mean more suffering and death, dislocation, displacement and ruin of the environment.
Hence we call on the Filipino people:
1. To oppose all destructive mining operations, both locally or foreign-owned;
2. To scrap the Mining Act of 1995;
3. To demand immediate moratorium of large scale mining
4. To demand the demilitarization of mining communities
5. To fight for justice and integrity of creation;
6. To pass the HB 4315 or the Peoples’ Mining Bill
We urge our churches and faith-based groups and institutions to pursue organizing, awareness building, and other relevant activities, and be in full solidarity with the people’s movement against destructive mining operations.
With the liberating power of the Holy Spirit, we seek strength and wisdom to carry this task of asserting the right of the earth to survive and all that dwell therein.
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
October 6, 2011
DA Reports Rise in Fish Catch But Not in Albay Gulf
In the July 12-18, 2011 issue of Diario Veritas, the Department of Agriculture reported:
Nahilingan nin senyales nin pag-asenso an sector nin pagsisira sa paagi kan pagiging aktibo kan mga regional fishing ports sa primerong quarto kan taon.
Ipinahayag nin Rodolfo Paz, an general manager kan Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), an mga dakop kan sira an nagtaas nin maabot sa 93 porsyento sa Navotas, Iloilo, asin Sual, Pangasinan.
Siring man an nanotaran sa Davao Fish Port Complex na nagkaigwa man na 40% na pagdakul nin dakop kumparadosa dakop kan mga parasira sa kaparehong peryodo kan nakaaging taon.
Katakod kaini, pinag-engganyar kan DA an gabos na local na gobyerno sa nasyon na pakusugon an industriya nina pagsisira partikular sa aspeto kan environmental protection asin pagbukod sa mga ilegal na mga parasira.
Nakaabot kaya an report sa DA na rampante an paggamit nin mga dinamitakan mga parasira sa nagkakapirang kostal na lugar kan nasyon kun saen saro kan naunambitan digdi iyo an rehiyon Bikol.
At least two points are implied in this report. First, there are rises in fish catch in several areas of the country but not in Albay Gulf. Second, the DA blames all declines in fish catch on environmental degradation “and” illegal fishing.
On the first implication: Why is there no report of any rise in fish catch in Albay Gulf? The answer is obvious: there is in fact a precipitous decline as attested to by fishermen. A 95% decline has been reported here since 2005 the same year when Lafayette went into full operation. Why is there such a decline? We have referred that question to the DA and its line bureau BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) but no answer has ever been given. (They have not even reported any investigation conducted on the cause of death of a 15-meter sperm whale in 2010.)
We have ascribed the decline to mining in Rapu-Rapu from which flow several creeks that are discolored. Officials of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project reply that fish catch decline is a global phenomenon (technical meeting on April 26, 2011 in EMB). Now, we have here a rebuttal to that defense - the DA report of fish catch rise in at least four areas. Fish catch decline is not a global phenomenon.
On the second implication: Since DA reports rises in fish catch in four areas of the country and calls for curtailment of illegal fishing, then it follows that after curtailing illegal fishing we can observe a rise in fish catch. In Albay Gulf, the Bantay Dagat, a local watch group against illegal fishing, has been very active in this campaign. However, the fish catch decline continues. Couple this observation with the fact that the DA confirms the presence of a fish sanctuary in Gaba Bay, Villahermosa, Rapu-Rapu . With a fish sanctuary and active campaign against illegal fishing, fish population should increase within one or two seasons but this does not happen. Hence, illegal fishing cannot be the cause. Again, we are led to the more obvious – the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu.
It should be pointed out that much of the fish catch in the past according to fishermen consisted of migratory fish from the Pacific Ocean – yellowfin tuna, kwaw, malasugi, tanguigue, sharks, etc. These species do not need the local breeding grounds in Albay Gulf to multiply. They spawn in the areas around Guam and come to Albay Gulf to feed seasonally. They pass through the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz following the current. Since 2005, the catch of these species has consistently declined. Something is barring their path in that gap and that something is none other than the contamination of silt and heavy metals flowing from the mine site through the creeks and ultimately to the waters around Rapu-Rapu. The current carries the contaminants into the Albay Gulf and spreads them as the tide flows back out into the Philippine Sea.
Any way we look at the phenomenon in Albay Gulf, the glaring fact is that mining has adversely affected our food supply. Between fishing where we derive 100% of the benefits and Rapu-Rapu mining where were derive only 1/3 of 1% (according to the statement of Gov. Joey Salceda in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 28, 2011), we have to choose the former.
The same issue of Diario Veritas banners the headline “City secures fish trade.” It reports the plan of the Legazpi City Council “to beef up the local fishing industry through stern legislation . . . Councilor Carlos Ante had already invited the different leaders of the local fisher folk to lay out details of a proposed ordinance to secure their livelihood.” I laud the efforts of the good councilor. However, I suggest that a more comprehensive view of the problem be taken if it is ever intended to be solved. As management theory suggests, any solution should address the real cause of the problem. Limiting the analysis within the immediate vicinity of the city’s coastal waters will lead to a failure at solution.
Not too long ago, we learned that several city councilors led by then Mayor Noel Rosal visited the Rapu-Rapu mine. In the newsletter of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Foresight, he was quoted as follows: “The mine is full of promise for the province” (Pages 9 and 11). I wrote Hon. Rosal in November 2010 (by then he had become the City Administrator) attaching photographs of the creeks colored brown, red, yellow and orange. I asked if the tour guides brought his group to the creeks. It’s September 2011 and I still have to receive a reply. I also wrote to MGB V and EMB V. Both replied that the contamination in the creeks is within “tolerable levels.”
RRMI, RRPI, LG, Kores and MSC should not think that they have succeeded in convincing the local community in their claim that the mine is operated responsibly and that the benefits they have derived translate to sustainable development of the people. The condition of the creeks, the fish catch decline and the poverty prevailing in the island all speak eloquently of the truth. Environmental damage and economic injustice have worsened. Adding insult to injury, they have praised themselves through press releases about their environmental awards while the residents of Rapu-Rapu and the fishermen of Albay Gulf continue to suffer. The contamination in the creeks may be within “tolerable levels” in the standards of the DENR but the poverty of the island residents, the fish catch decline and the environmental damage are definitely intolerable in the standards of the local community.
The DA, BFAR, DENR, Legazpi City Council, other local government units and other authorities better look into Rapu-Rapu mining honestly if they really want to solve the problem of fish catch decline in Albay Gulf. Anything less than that would not be in keeping with the public trust reposed in them.
September 4, 2011
Mining Engineers’ Conference in Legazpi City blind to local residents’ plight!
We remind the Provincial Government of Albay about the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution 2011-020 issued on March 8, 2011 banning all future mining activities in the province. It should have shown consistency by expressing disfavor against the convention.
We rebuke the City Government of Legazpi for going against the sentiments of Albayanos against the continued destruction of our environment. The city has recently manifested its inability to walk the talk. In Mount Bariw, Barangay Estanza, a large swath of hillside is severely denuded yet it has done nothing. The silt from the denudation has flowed to Barangay Pinaric where it is several inches thick. In Embarcadero, large volumes of floating garbage greet the citizens whenever they go for a leisurely stroll along the boulevard. The city government has been so preoccupied with pleasing tourists but compromised the welfare of local residents who voted them into office and pay millions in taxes. Tourists bring in income but that income is just a means towards providing better living conditions for local residents. The means cannot be exchanged for the end. If the welfare of citizens is disadvantaged by the city government’s preoccupation with pleasing tourists, then it is time to withdraw the trust reposed in them during election.
The hosting of the mining engineers’ convention in Legazpi is a misstep of the city government. It betrays a failure to understand genuine environmental advocacy. While the city brags about its sanitary landfill, it fails to prove its pro-environment agenda by making a prominent endorsement of mining as a stimulant of progress. While we need products derived from mining, we insist that it should be done in the right place and the right manner. That is what responsible mining is all about. So far, however, all claims of responsible mining by many companies are nothing but hot air because of the evident damage wrought on their surroundings like what is happening in Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Palanog, Matnog, Paracale, Catanduanes, Caramoan, etc.
They say, if we do not want mining then we should not use the products of that industry. They are dead wrong. We want mining that does not destroy the environment. We want mining that reserves the natural resources of the Philippines for Filipinos. We want mining that spreads the fruits of development to the masses and not only to the foreign investors and their local junior partners.
We want mining that does not sacrifice our agriculture so that we protect our own food supply. Mining generally provides for non-basic needs while agriculture produces our most basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and livelihood. While mining generates a few temporary jobs, agriculture provides long-term sources of income thus genuinely assuring sustainable development.
We call on all mining engineers to support our notion of genuinely responsible mining. In view of the bad record of mining in Bicol, we ask them not to project the impression that they condone what is happening here contrary to declarations by the DENR, MGB, EMB and companies that all is well in Bicol mining. Bicol is severely suffering from the impacts of mining and the statements of the aforementioned entities are belied when we see the plight of the farmers and fishermen and the condition of our mountains, rivers, creeks and seas.
So in their visit to Rapu-Rapu today, they should make an objective assessment on the effects of mining in the island and its residents and not make it a mere field trip. They should talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell us nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.
In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown.
We ask the delegates to the mining conference to wake up to realities and not be deceived by the lies of those who support mining operations in Bicol.
July 19, 2011
RRPP’s Awards - Rubbing Salt on the People’s Injury
As the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. One needs only to go to the island and talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.
In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown. Challenged to prove his belief in the reports of the Multi-partite Monitoring Team by bathing in the creeks on schedules and sites set by SARA, Director Reynulfo Juan of MGB V, showed photos of people perching on rocks in the discolored creeks on dates and sites they themselves chose. Challenged by SARA to withdraw the armed CAFGUs and allow free access and surprise visits to the creeks, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of RRMI, replied that they cannot allow such because they “have to protect their interests.” Hence, the interests of the environment and those of RRPP are contradictory.
The executives of RRPP can go on deluding themselves with fantastic claims of “safe and responsible mining” in Rapu-Rapu but the truth is well-known to the people who suffer much from the environmental damage and economic injustice attendant to the project. The emperor’s new clothes are well-praised by the award-giving bodies. One day, the truth will prevail and the awards will instead shatter their credibility. There is time under heaven for everything, says the Bible. Today, in the island of Rapu-Rapu and villages dependent on Albay Gulf, the people are groaning in pain. The awards are salt rubbed on their wounds while RRPP’s supporters have their photo-ops and raise their toasts of wine in fine dining. We believe that the day will come when, after being denied for so long, the people shall claim justice and RRPP’s awards will go to the dustbin.
July 18, 2011
Noon at Ngayon, Walang Responsableng Dayuhang Pagmimina sa Kabikolan!
Kahiya-hiya at malakas pa ang loob na ang itinakdang tema ng kumperensyang magaganap ay: Towards Responsible Mining: “Against All Odds”. Responsable para kanino? - Para sa mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at para sa mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito.
Kalokohang sabihin na ang operasyon na Open Pit Mining sa Rapu-Rapu, Albay (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project ng Lafayette/LG-Kollins) at sa Aroroy, Masbate (Masbate Gold Project ng Filminera Resources Corporation) ay responsable! Mayroon bang pagpapasabog (blasting) ng kabundukan at kalupaan na “safe and environmental friendly”? Samantalang winawasak nga at hinuhukay pailalim.
Hindi rin responsable ang Magnetite Offshore Mining ng Bogo Mining Resources Corp. sa limang bayan ng Calabanga, Sipocot, Tinambac, Cabusao at Siruma sa Camarines Sur kung saan hahalukayin ang kailaliman ng karagatan 15 kilometro mula sa baybayin nito.
Hindi kailanman naging responsable ang mga dayuhang korporasyon ng pagmimina sa mga naapektuhan ng kanilang mga operasyon. Simula ng operasyon ng RRPP sa Rapu-Rapu ay lalong lumala ang kahirapan at nagkagutom-gutom ang mga residente dito dahil sa pagbagsak ng kanilang kabuhayan sa pangingisda at pagsasaka dulot ng mga lason ng pagmimina dito. Kung mayroong nakinabang sa binayad ng RRPP na P10,862.85 (mine waste fee) para sa 217,257 tonelada na “mine waste” ay ang MGB-V. (mula sa ulat ng MGB-V,2010). Sampung libong piso! Katumbas ba ito ng isang buhay ng nanay na namatay dahil nakakain ng isda dahil sa fishkill doon o ng isang batang namatay doon dahil sa kagutuman?
Apektado na nga ang mga residente sa pagmimina sa Barangay Nakalaya, Jose Panganiban sa Camarines Norte ay naiipit pa sila ngayon sa kaguluhan at away ng Investwell Corporation at ng FMCGI ng pamilyang Fonacier na nag-aagawan ng yamang mineral ng kanilang lugar.
Kasinungalingang ipamaglaki pa sa ulat ng DENR-V/MGB-V na ang malakihang pagmimina sa Kabikolan ang nagpasigla ng ekonomiya ng rehiyon samantalang ayon sa ulat ay nasa ikalawa sa pinakamahirap na rehiyon ang Bikol sa buong bansa. Kung sinasabi na umunlad ang ekonomiya ng Bikol dahil sa malakihang pagmimina – hindi ito maramdaman ng mga mamamayang Bikolano lalo na ng mga apektado ng mapaminsala at dayuhang pagmimina.
Tanging ang mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito ang nakikinabang sa mga produkto at kita ng pagmimina dito sa Bikol. Sa ulat ng MBG-V/DENR-V noong 2010, sa kabuuan ay may P4,654,818,424.31 at P57,483,032.45 na kita mula sa “metallic ” at “non-metallic production”dito sa Bikol ayon sa pagkasunod-sunod ngunit hindi naman inulat ang mga dambuhala at limpak na limpak na kita ng mga korporasyon na maluwag na inilalabas patungo sa kanilang bansa. Maluwag nang nailalabas ang kita, maluwag pa ang kanilang operasyon dahil sa mga iba’t-ibang insentibo tulad ng: 6 years income tax exemption, 10 years export tax exemption, and import tax exemption at marami pang iba.
Kaya nga parang parang kabuteng nagsulputan ang mga ito sa Bikol dahil sa pagiging sagana ng rehiyon sa yamang mineral at prayoridad pa ng nakaraang gobyerno ni GMA ito para sa malakihang proyektong pagmimina na ipinagpapatuloy lamang ng gobyerno ni Noynoy Aquino at pinasahol pa sa ilalim ng kanyang Public-Private Partnership Program. Gayundin, patuloy ang pag-iral ng Mining Act of 1995 kung saan ay lalong nagbuyangyang sa ating likas na yaman para dambungin at wasakin ang ating kalikasan.
“Towards Responsible Mining: Against All Odds” ? - Ang responsableng pagmimina ay mangyayari lamang sa ating bansa kung magkakaroon ng re-oryentasyon ang industriya ng pagmimina sa ating bansa. Kung saan, ang kita ng industriya ng pagmimina ay napapakinabangan at napapaunlad ang mamamayang Pilipino at hindi napupunta sa dayuhan at sa mga lokal na kasabwat nito. Kung saan, ang gobyerno ang may kontrol ng industriya at hindi ang mga dayuhan.
Hindi dayuhang pagmimina at malawakang kumbersyon ng lupa ang magpapaunlad sa Kabikolan. Hindi ito ang sagot sa kahirapan at kagutuman ng mamamayang Bikolano. Pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura, trabaho at sapat na sahod, tirahan, libreng serbisyo-sosyal ang tutugon sa kahirapan at kagutuman upang mabuhay ng maayos at marangal ang mamamayang Bikolano. Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa at Pambansang Industriyalisasyon lamang ang magpapaunlad sa bansa at rehiyon.
Hulyo 13, 2011
A Word of Caution
Matthew 7:16 - You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.
Matthew 7:20 - So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.
The creeks are crucial to the condition of fishing grounds
The joke is that there will no longer be any fishkill - because there are no more fish to kill.
The fish that allegedly died off the coasts of Linao and Binosawan during the fishkill reported by island residents and the parish on May 8, 2011 could be the migratory species from the Pacific Ocean attempting to enter Albay Gulf via the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz. Linao is a village facing the ocean and Binosawan, the gap.
The MGB V Photographs and "Bathing" in the Creeks of Rapu-Rapu
"With reference to your challenge to take a bath in the creeks, we have done just that. some members of the MMT and personnel of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) went to a picnic and took a bath at Pagcolbon Creek on March 29 and April 3, 2011. We are attaching pictures for your reference. These pictures indicate the current status of the creeks."
In reply, Mr. Perdigon writes:
The good Director says he believes the contamination data but he is not among those “bathing.” Someone is shown sitting on the rocks (obviously not bathing) but the face is not recognizable (number 10).
Then and Now: What Difference? What Improvement in the Creeks?
Below, we are presenting ALL pictures in the Annex to the EMB V Investigation Report dated March 8-10, 2011. Those on the left are the pictures we have been showing to authorities which were taken from 2006 to 2009; those on the right are alleged to have been taken in the same spots on March 8 to 10, 2011 by EMB V and the mining companies. You be the judge if there is any improvement.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. Blames Island Residents for Decline in Fish Catch
In Forcus - coastal resource protection and conservation presented to you by Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. The destruction of mangroves or bakawan forests are (sic) one of the major reasons for the declining fish catch in the municipality of Rapu-Rapu. More than 80% of mangrove forests have been cut down for firewood, charcoal, fish farming and residential settlements. In Focus – coastal resource protection and conservation presented to you by Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc. Best practices are our guiding principle.
This adds insult to injury. This is not so different from the “Lollipop Affair” when a certain Joey Cubias said something to this effect:
The people of Rapu-Rapu cannot be satisfied with just one lollipop. They demand ten.
The mining company apologized to the local government of Rapu-Rapu and booted Cubias. The release of the advertisement on the decline in fish catch exposes the hypocrisy of the “new management” of the mine. After apologizing for the Cubias faux pas, they trample upon the dignity of the residents anew by blaming them for the loss of their livelihood – fishing.
The apologists of Lafayette mining have been groping for a convincing defense against the charge that contamination of the seawater around Rapu-Rapu is the actual cause of fish catch decline. First, they blamed the phenomenon on climate change. This was thwarted with the argument that open pit mining aggravates climate change. If climate change caused fish catch decline, then by transitivity, the mining operation caused the drastic fish catch decline! This reasoning is as simple as the logism that if A caused B and B caused C, then A caused C.
Second, the apologists of Lafayette mining blamed the decline in fish catch on illegal fishing. To this we have responded. There has been illegal fishing in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. But no decline in fish catch happened. Moreover, the damage done by illegal fishing can easily be repaired by the natural process of fish rebreeding in one or two seasons. Today, the Bantay Dagat operatives (Sea Guards) have been patrolling Albay Gulf so that illegal fishing has been reduced. Since natural rebreeding can restore the fish population in a few seasons, how can illegal fishing be blamed for the drastic decline in fish catch? One fact is obvious but it seems Lafayette cannot see it: the rapid decline in fish catch started in 2005. That was also the year mining operations went full blast.
Third, the apologists of Lafayette mining blamed trawl fishing. In response, the fishermen themselves testify that trawl fishing cannot be done in Albay Gulf because the net would get entangled in the corrals and rocks. They themselves do not see any trawl ships entering Albay Gulf. They see them in the Pacific Ocean. Out there where trawls ply, the fish are abundant but the boats of Rapu-Rapu fishermen are too small for the big waves.
The fourth alibi of the apologists of Lafayette mining, namely the destruction of mangroves by the residents of the island, is also easily debunked by two scientific studies:
(1) M. W. Yim and N. F. Y. Tam; Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China
Effects of wastewater-borne heavy metals on growth of young plants (9-month-old Bruguiera gymnorrhiza) and soil microbial activities in mangrove microcosms were evaluated. During the 26-week loading period, each mangrove microcosm received 31.2 litres synthetic wastewater of three strengths: normal, medium (5 times of normal strength) and strong (10 times of normal strength). Normal strength wastewater had Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Ni concentrations of 3, 5, 0.2, 2 and 3 mg l−1, respectively. Plant growth and total plant biomass in wastewater-treated microcosms were lower than that in the control, and the maximum reduction was found in microcosms receiving strong wastewater. Alkaline phosphatase activity and ATP contents of the mangrove soils receiving wastewater were also reduced. More than 95% reduction in these two parameters was found in soils loaded with strong wastewater. Microtox test demonstrated that soil elutriates obtained from microcosms receiving strong wastewater were of the greatest toxicity (EC50 was 23%). These results show that high concentrations of heavy metals present in strong wastewater were toxic and posed negative effects to both mangrove plants and soil microbial activities. Microbial activities were generally more sensitive to the toxicity of heavy metals than plants. (boldface and italics supplied)
(2) Megan Jugwi; Mangrove Deforestation Affects Coral Reefs; Aug 10, 2009
Although the leggy trees of a mangrove forest seem to have little in common with the clear blue waters of a colorful coral reef, these two ecosystems are closely connected to each other. Mangrove deforestation not only means loss of habitat for mangrove wildlife such as mudskippers, birds, and deer. Mangrove deforestation also affects coral reefs and this wider impact must be understood.
The Extent of Mangrove Deforestation
Twenty percent of the world’s mangrove forests have been lost since 1980, says the January 2008 report “Loss of mangroves alarming” from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). The report goes on to say that mangrove deforestation is mostly due to shrimp and fish farming, agriculture, pollution, and tourism. Mangroves provide many ecosystem services including protecting the shore from erosion, providing wood and food to humans, and are a home to a wide range of animals.
Where Mangroves and Corals Interact
Mangrove forests and coral reefs do not always occur near each other. However, these two ecosystems are neighbors often enough that important biological and physical interactions have been observed. Places as disparate as Indonesia, Australia, and the Caribbean have mangrove coastlines not far from coral reefs. The placement of mangroves, coral reefs, and the sometimes-intermediary sea grass beds can be seen in the United Nations Environmental Program’s maps “Global Distribution of Coral, Mangrove, and Seagrass Diversity” at the UNEP/GRID-Arendal Site.
Mangroves Home to Baby Reef Fish
The loss of mangrove forests affect reef fish in a very direct way reports John Roach in the February 2004 National Geographic article “Mangroves Are Nurseries for Reef Fish, Study Finds”. Researchers found that coral reefs near mangroves had twice as many fish as those far from mangrove forests. Many fish are born in seagrass beds and live there until they are too big to hide from predators. They then move on to mangroves to grow a bit more before moving on to reefs. In areas without mangroves, the fish move to the reefs when they are smaller and are easier prey for predators. Mangroves are thus important to healthy, abundant reef communities.
Mangrove Loss Leads to Polluted Coral Reefs
The roots of mangrove trees do an important job of keeping the coastline’s soil intact and out of the ocean. Unfortunately, the loss of mangrove forests can lead to silt traveling out to sea. The eroding coastline is bad for land inhabitants, but it also leads to the siltation of coral reefs. This often means death for corals that are smothered by soil. As the FAO notes in its article, mangroves are important in protecting corals from erosion.
The first study says: Copper, zinc, cadmium and nickel contamination severely reduced the growth of mangroves. High concentrations of heavy metals present in strong wastewater were toxic and posed negative effects to both mangrove plants and soil microbial activities.
In Rapu-Rapu, UP NSRI study identified the first three elements (Cu, Zn and Cd) as among the contaminants. We repeat: one fact is obvious but it seems Lafayette cannot see it: the rapid decline in fish catch started in 2005. That was also the year mining operations went full blast.
The residents of the island are not responsible for the release of heavy metals to the seawater around the island. The mining operators did that as proven in 2005, 2006 and 2007 fishkills. If no fishkill occurred in 2008 and 2009 that is due to the fact that there are no more fish to kill.
The second study says: Mangroves and coral reefs are interrelated.
The FAO report says: Mangrove deforestation is mostly due to shrimp and fish farming, agriculture, pollution, and tourism. Mangroves provide many ecosystem services including protecting the shore from erosion, providing wood and food to humans, and are a home to a wide range of animals.
The FAO itself acknowledges the legitimacy of tapping mangroves as source of fuel and food for humans. What is not legitimate is the mining of an island with a fragile ecosystem. The people of Rapu-Rapu have all the right to do these economic activities in their island and they have done them sustainably. RRMI, RRPI, RRPP, LPI, Kores, LGI, MSC and their host of apologists are intruders backed solely by the fiat of Malacañang. The radio advertisement blaming the destruction of mangroves on the people of Rapu-Rapu has neither scientific nor moral basis.
We do not see any shrimp and fish farming around Rapu-Rapu! Bicol University attempted a seaweed culture project there but the seaweed did not grow as attested to by Dr. Nimfa Pelea during the meeting of PATLEPAM on October 3, 2008. Agriculture in Rapu-Rapu is down because of the encroachment of the open pit on their farmlands and diversion of irrigation water from the farms to the mine site. Recall that the Secretary of the Rapu-Rapu Sangguniang Bayan, Mr. Allan Asuncion, wrote a letter to Engr. Rogelio E. Corpus (then LPI General Manager for Operations and currently RRMI Senior Vice-President for Mine Operations) dated September 12, 2007 to convey the complaint of the Pagcolbon Barangay Captain about the “drought and scarcity or total absence of potable water supply” in his barangay. No reply was reported.
There is no significant tourism industry to speak of in Rapu-Rapu. What is glaring in that island is pollution. The release of naturally occurring mercury; the contamination with copper, zinc, cadmium, lead and arsenic; and the scattering of silt have polluted the seawater around Rapu-Rapu. This is the only cause of the destruction of the mangroves and the corals. This is the result of Lafayette mining.
Lafayette must own up to its culpability for the environmental damage in Rapu-Rapu and to the economic injustice inflicted on the people. They should stop citing unscientific alibis. As the captain of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza told them: They should pack up, clean up, pay up and take off.
RRMI, RRPI, RRPP, LPI, Kores, LGI, MSC and their host of apologists should stop thinking that the people of Rapu-Rapu and the Bicol Region can be deceived by their lies! If the decline in fish catch is due to the destruction of mangroves by residents of the island and not to pollution, then we challenge all executives of RRMI, RRPI, RRPP, LPI, Kores, LGI, MSC and their host of apologists to swim for one hour every weekend in the mouths of the creeks where they discharge wastewater and eat fish if they can catch any. If they can do that then their radio advertisement can be believed. If they cannot, then it is “baseless, speculative and in no way supported by facts or evidence” to quote Engr. Corpus in his statement to the Business Mirror on June 9, 2009.
Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance
September 15, 2009