The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Friday denied allegations that the fishkill near Baseco compound was caused by the crushed dolomite used in the Manila Bay beach ‘nourishment’ project.
Antiporda issued the statement after several groups posted a video of floating dead fish in the Baseco area which they claimed was connected to the dolomite used in Manila Bay.
“Very erroneous yung allegation na yun kasi if you will look at the distance talagang napakalayo and at the same time yung direction ng hangin which is habagat ay hindi nagpo-point sa lugar na yun (that allegation is very erroneous because if you look at the distance, the two areas are very far from each other and at the same time, we have the southwest monsoon which means that the direction of the wind does not point to the area where the alleged dead fish floated).”
Showing a map, Antiporda said the Manila Bay beach nourishment project is about five kilometers away from the Baseco area where the alleged fish kill happened.
Aside from the distance and the wind direction, Antiporda added that there is a breakwater between the two areas.
He added that the DENR immediately instructed its Biodiversity Management Bureau to conduct an investigation and look at the possible cause of the reported fish kill.
Instead, DENR Undersecretary and spokesperson Benny Antiporda said the fishkill was probably caused by illegal fishing.
“We are not discounting illegal fishing using cyanide in the area,” Antiporda said.
The DENR official said that during early October last year, a similar incident occurred at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) where about two tons of dead fish were found floating.
Antiporda said that on Oct. 10, 2019, a fish kill also happened along Manila Bay’s Parañaque City area when the oxygen level went down to as low as .02 milligram per liter.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said the water quality testing in Baseco showed that dissolved oxygen in the area was only at 0.11 mg/L, much lower than the acceptable level of 5 mg/L for aquatic life.
“We will check on the water quality first to see if this was not done intentionally or if there was a change in the salinity of the water. We are now looking at the possibilities,” Antiporda said.
Antiporda added that the DENR is also not discounting the possibility that somebody might be trying to sabotage the situation.
“We want to set the record straight but we are not discounting na me mga ganung moves na ngayon, kasi these are desperate moves eh, desperate times eh, eto na lang yung paraan nila para i-discredit yung ginagawa ng gobyerno kaya sa atin naman, nag-iingat din kami, we’re trying to look at all the angles na makita kung ano talaga yung tunay na nangyari (that there may be similar moves. These are desperate times, desperate moves, this is the only way they see to discredit government efforts, so we are also cautious and are looking at different angles so we would know what really happened),” he said.
“The dumping (of dolomite) continues unless the critics could show a strong evidence that there is a problem with the project,” Antiporda added.
Meanwhile, the DENR announced that the Philippines is joining today’s International Coastal Cleanup 2020 with fewer volunteers.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu cited the adoption of several major adjustments due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.
To mark the local observance of ICC Day on Sept. 19, the agency will lead a cleanup activity along the coast of Manila Bay on Roxas Boulevard in Manila with fewer volunteers, mostly government employees, he said.
Unlike in past years, there would be no large gatherings at the traditional sites on shorelines and creeks nationwide, he added.
Instead, he said, volunteers are encouraged to conduct safe and socially distant individual or small group cleanups, or through at-home efforts to reduce plastic waste.
“Our duty to keep our shorelines, rivers and waterways clean does not stop even with the pandemic. It is a task that we should take on every single day,” he said.
Cimatu emphasized the proper disposal of coronavirus wastes, such as single-use face masks and gloves, which have become a new form of pollution threatening marine life and ecosystems.
“The minimal disturbance in our oceans due to reduced water activities has led to a resurgence of marine animals,” he said.
“However, we are threatening their existence again with our medical wastes — their new nemesis.”
For this year’s ICC, volunteers are limited to small groups to ensure physical distancing, and that the use of face masks and face shields would be strictly enforced during the event, along with other health protocols.
The DENR chief would proceed to the site of the Manila Bay beach nourishment project to check on the progress of the ongoing operation to fill a 500-meter portion of the bay area with dolomite sand. With PNA