Back to Main
To Overseas Start Page
The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
February, 1998 Vol. 1 No.2

Coastal Alert





Eco-conscious GNP
Harnessing tidal power
Cyanide rules
New patrol boats for Philippine coasts
White pebbles smuggle try thwarted
In the works: Environment Code for Bohol
Teaching fishers to fish -- an update
What’s good about El Niño
Global warming timeline

Special News Section --- Philippine Treasures
featuring in this issue:
Bongsanglay Mangrove Forest Reserve


Eco-conscious GNP
It’s never too late: The Philippine government expects a more cohesive integration of environmental concerns with socioeconomic policy-making with the creation of the Philippine Economic Environmental and Natural Resources Accounting (PEENRA).

          Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cielito F. Habito, who chairs the PEENRA steering committee, said the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order 406 (EO 406), which institutionalizes the PEENRA, have been approved. In a meeting last December, the PEENRA steering committee agreed to adopt a framework that is consistent with the system of national acoounts for its compilation of environmental indicators.

          Habito however clarified that the environmentally adjusted net domestic product will not be estimated until complete coverage of natural resource accounts is achieved. Until then, he said, environmental accounts will be presented as a satellite to the annual GNP and GDP accounts.

         The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now working on the development of a computerized data management system for PEENRA to facilitate the processing of environment statistics and indicators. The Philippine Star 12.12.97

Harnessing tidal power
Vancouver-based Blue Energy Canada Inc. will set up a $95.7 million, 30-megawatt tidal-power generating station in San Bernardino Strait between the islands of Leyte and Samar. The plant will use a turbine to harness tidal currents to produce electricity. It will be constructed under the government’s build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, which allows private firms to set up crucial pieces of infrastructure, operate them at a profit for a certain period, then transfer them to the government

          In a related development, President Fidel V. Ramos issued last January Executive Order No. 462 (EO 462), which aims to speed up the development and utilization of ocean, solar and wind (OSW) resources -- resources that are renewable and abundant in the Philippines, according to the President -- for power generation and other energy uses. EO 462 is modeled after the already proven production-sharing contract system for petroleum, coal, geothermal and mini-hydro energy resources. The production-sharing contract is limited to lands of the public domain and offshore waters within the Philippine territory, contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. However, under the EO, the Department of Energy is mandated to regulate energy generation of more than one megawatt from OSW resources in private lands as well as in private-held offshore areas through the existing accreditation systems for power plants. The Freeman, 12.22.97; Manila Bulletin 01.04.98

Cyanide rules
          Cyanide suppliers and users, take note: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a new rule that spefically prohibits "importers, distributors, manufacturers, processors and industrial users, treaters and disposers" from using cyanide and its compounds in, or making these chemicals available to, the fishery sector. The new rule is contained in DENR Secretary Victor O. Ramos’s Chemical Control Order (CCO) or Department Administrative Order No. 39 (series of 1997), which was issued last December.

          The CCO includes guidelines for the issuance of permits to import, treat, transport, store and dispose cyanide and its componds. It states that the use and disposal of these chemicals are "strictly limited" to electroplating, mining, metallurgy, steel manufacturing, production of synthetic fibers and chemicals, production of plastics, and "other industry subsectors legitimately using cyanide such as jewelry making."

          Violators face administrative and criminal penalties and liabilities, including imprisonment of six months to 12 years and fines amounting to P10,000-P500,000. Foreigners violating the CCO face deportation and the cancelation of their license to do business in the Philippines. The Freeman, 02.06.98

New patrol boats for Philippines coasts
          The Philippines is acquiring 14 patrol boats worth $39.42 million to secure its coasts. The boats would be used to crack down on "illegal fishermen, smugglers, poachers and intruders," according to a statement from Malacañang, the presidential palace. The statement said the government would also acquire a marine research vessel and two maritime patrol aircraft to monitor and protect "our marine territories."

          An additional 123 patrol boats are also being considered. AFP in The Freeman 12.22.97

White pebbles smuggle try thwarted
A timely tip and quick action thwarted an attempt to smuggle white pebbles out of Tagbilaran City, Bohol in January. The two-and-a-half bags of white pebbles were found at the Philippine Ports Authority’s container yard in that city without the required documentation. According to reports, the hot cargo belonged to one Freggie Magallano and was consigned to Ayot Magallano of Manila.

          Under a provincial ordinance regulating sand, gravel and quarry resources in Bohol, the export of white pebbles is illegal unless covered by an extraction permit and a certification of quarry resources origin. RV Obedencio in The Freeman, 01.19.98

In the works: Environment Code for Bohol
The provincial council of Bohol is working double time to finish the province’s Environment Code, which will provide the policy framework for matters related to the environment. Provincial officials say they want to pass the Code before their terms of office are over, that is, before the May elections. A technical working group (TWG) chaired by The Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) is working on a draft code for fisheries, which it hopes to finish by the end of February.

          In a related development, the Bohol Coastal Resource Management Task Force met last January 13 to discuss the development of a coastal environment program for the province. Mel Cimagala, CRMP learning area coordinator in Bohol, told Over Seas that membership of the Task Force has been widened so "we also have partners on the opposite side of the province." The group led activities during last September’s International Coastal Cleanup Day and is expected to again play an active role in the launching of the International Year of the Ocean in the province.

Teaching fishers to fish -- update
The International Marinelife Alliance (IMA) continues its work of training fishers on Olango and neighboring islands, just off the coast of Mactan, Cebu, in environment-friendly fishing practices. The group completed this month a 7-day training course for fishers called "Destructive Fishing Reform Program." A recent development caused some sectors to worry, however: Word has it that big fishing boat operators want their workers and suppliers to train under IMA, apparently to avail of the training certificates issued by IMA, which, according to observers, could give their operations some semblance of legitimacy.

          The NGO also completed last December a 5-day training workshop on hook-and-line decompression fishing techniques for fishers on Mantatao Island in Calape, Bohol. Mantatao is known as the "cradle of dynamite and cyanide fishing" in the province. Some 90% of fishers here are believed to be engaged in cyanide and dynamite fishing. Mel Cimagala, CRMP’s learning area coordinator in Bohol, related that he would sometimes see dead fish floating near the shore. "When I’d ask people about it, they would tell me that it was the children who were responsible, meaning the children had been playing with cyanide. I would tell them, ‘That’s because you, the parents, use cyanide. The children think they are playing. They don’t know that they are killing their future.’"

          Cimagala said the workshop was designed "to show illegal fishers that there is an alternative, that they don’t have to resort to destructive methods in order to catch fish." He noted how the workshop made an impression on some participants. One fisher, he said, was so moved he vowed to stop using destructive fishing methods.

          CRMP, along with IMA, will monitor the fishing practices of workshop participants to determine any shift, if at all, to the hook-and-line decompression technique. "The more visible we are, the more the fishers will be encouraged to use this environment-friendly technique," said Cimagala.

What’s good about El Niño
Here’s some good news about El Niño: The climate phenomenon that is being blamed for floods, hurricanes and early snowstorms also deserves credit for invigorating plants and helping to control the pollutant linked to global warming, a new study shows.

         El Niño -- the periodic warming of eastern Pacific Ocean waters -- causes a burst of plant growth throughout the world, and this removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a study published in the journal Science. David Schimel of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, co-author of the study, said natural weather events, such as the brief warming caused by El Niño, have a much more dramatic effect than previously believed on how much carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants and how much of the gas is expelled by the soils.

          Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing steadily for decades. This is thought to be caused by an expanded use of fossil fuels and by toppling of tropical forests. Scientists have linked the carbon dioxide rise to global warming, a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Nations now are drawing up plans to reduce fossil-fuel burning in hopes of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

          Those determining how much to reduce fossil-fuel burning, said Schimel, should consider the effects of natural climate variability on the ability of the planet to absorb carbon dioxide. While natural warming events such as El Niño at first cause more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere, later, within two years, there is an explosion of growth in forests and grasslands, causing plants to more vigorously suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It is not clear if the warming caused by El Niño causes a net decrease in the build-up of carbon dioxide over the long haul. What the study does show is that the rise and fall of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is strongly influenced by natural changes in global temperature. B.H. Braswell of the University of New Hampshire, another researcher involved in the study, said that in the years when the global weather is cooler than normal, there is a decrease in both the decay of dead plants and in new plant growth. This causes an effect that is the opposite of El Niño warming: carbon dioxide atmosphere levels first decline and later increase.

         "I think we have demonstrated that the ecosystem has a lot more to do with climate change than was previously believed," said Braswell. The study, said Stuart Chapin, a University of California Berkeley ecologist, is "a major step forward in providing evidence for mechanisms that explain terrestrial response to climate change." Paul Recer, AP, in Manila Bulletin, 01.04.98

Global warming timeline

Key dates in the global warming story:

  • 1898 -- Swedish scientist Svante Ahrrenius warns that the Industrial Revolution’s carbon dioxide emissions from coal and oil could accumulate in the atmosphere and lead to global warming.
  • 1961 -- New observatory atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa detects rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • 1980s -- Computer models of world climate project rising temperatures.
  • 1988 -- UN establishes authoritative network of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • 1990 -- Panel certifies scientific basis for ‘greenhouse effect’ and global warming predictions.
  • 1992 -- Climate change treaty signed, setting voluntary goals for industrial nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Almost 170 countries ratify treaty.
  • October 1997 -- Negotiators end two years of preliminary talks with major issues, including level of binding targets, unresolved. Final conference in Kyoto set.
  • December 11, 1997 -- Treaty parties approve the Kyoto Protocol mandating greenhouse gas reductions for industrial nations between 2008 and 2012. AP in Manila Bulletin, 01.04.98


Special News Section
Philippine Treasures

Bongsanglay Mangrove Forest Reserve

          The mangrove swamp in Bongsanglay, Batuan, on Ticao Island in the province of Masbate was declared a mangrove forest reserve on December 29, 1981 under Presidential Proclamation No. 2152. Now part of the National Integrated Protection Area System (NIPAS), this forest reserve covers an area of 168 hectares with dense of old growth mangrove, including one mangrove tree believed to be more than a hundred years old. Various shore birds, waders and other animals have been spotted in the area, including little mangrove heron, little egret, reef egret, wandering whistling duck, white-collared kingfisher, Pacific swallow, green-winged ground dove, zebra dove, amethyst brown fruit dove, common coucal, river kingfisher, pied friller, and gray wagtail.

The entire area is dominantly covered with Rhizophora species interspersed with other mangrove flora. On the edges of the coast, bungalon, api-api, pagatpat, bakauans, saging-saging, bantigi and tangal predominate, while in the middle portion, tabau, lipata, tangal, pototan and nipa are dominant. Landward/back portion consist of mangrove associates, vines and apiphyte. A 1,000-meter canopy walk traverse the mangrove forest for detection of illegal activities and for ecotourism purposes.

The mangrove used to be part of a large private property, one reason, according to observers, why it has been preserved. There is a small fishing community not too far from the mangrove. DENR's presence and its efforts to involve the community in the protection of the forest and the surrounding waters also help maintain this area's natural abundance.

           If you know of any ‘Philippine treasure’ -- mangrove forests, coral reefs, natural beaches, bird sanctuaries, marine sanctuaries, etc. -- and ongoing efforts to protect them (or threats facing them) please send us photos and details, by electronic or conventional mail, so we can share your find with others who are concerned about keeping our oceans and coastal resources sustainable. Our address: CRMP, 5/F CIFC Towers, cor. J. Luna and Humabon Sts, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City 6000, Tel. (32) 232 1821 to 22; Fax (32) 232 1825. E-mail:




             To Over Seas Start Page
Back To Main

This website was made possible through support provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms and conditions of Contract No. AID-492-0444-C-00-6028-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

Copyright 1998 by All Rights Reserved