Potential oil spill, chemical wastes spread from Super Ferry 9 disaster might spoil fishing growth, says Pamalakaya
The failure to contain 220 tons of fuel oil, as well as the spread of chemicals and possible toxic wastes loaded in the cargo area of Super Ferry 9 might spoil the promising fishing growth in Zamboanga Peninsula over the last six years, according to the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).
“The possible occurrence of oil spill and the spread of poisonous chemicals will lead to the contamination of offshore and municipal waters of Zamboanga Peninsula, and that would be a serious problem to the fishery production capacity of the region in the immediate future,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
The Pamalakaya leader said the people of Zamboanga Peninsula mainly rely to agriculture and fishery for their livelihood which accounts 49 percent of the region’s total economy. He said because of agriculture and fisheries, the peninsula ranked third among the best performing regions in Mindanao behind Caraga and Northern Mindanao.
Hicap said in 2007, the region’s economy grew by 7.4 percent—a big jump from the 2.1-percent growth in 2006. The growth was attributed to the strong performance of the agriculture and fishery sector.
According to Hicap, the government should immediately address the salvaging of Super Ferry 9 in Zamboanga del Norte and prevent the fuel oil and other chemicals from spilling into the seas.
“The fisheries sector in Zamboanga Peninsula is under extreme threat, and the government should fast-track all efforts in preventing the oil fuel and other poisonous substance from going to the sea. Please allow us to remind the authorities that fisheries is also one of the region’s main growth engines,” said Pamalakaya.
According to the group, being a peninsula, the region is blessed with a 1,300-km coastline and is surrounded by big bodies of water like the Sulu Sea, Moro Gulf, and Sindangan Bay. The geography of the region makes it a major producer of fish and seaweeds. It is also the biggest manufacturer of sardines and the bottled sardine capital of the country.
“Imagine the devastation this gross human error on the part of Super Ferry 9 owners and the national government would bring to the people of Zamboanga peninsula. The corporate lords of Super Ferry 9 and their backers in Malacañang should do their assignments quickly and appropriately to avoid further damage to livelihood and environment,” said Pamalakaya.
From 2001 to 2007, the fishing industry performed well except for municipal fishing. Commercial and aquaculture production posted annual growth rates of 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Seaweed farming, which is done is the off the waters of Zamboanga Peninsula is another strong sector of the region’s fisheries sector. In 2007, it produced a total of 201,508 metric tons. The country used to produce 80 percent of the global seaweed market but now our share is just around 50 percent.
The production output of commercial fisheries sector in Zamboanga Peninsula went up slightly by 5.49 percent or 33,625.76 MT, higher as compared to the same period last year. Two provinces contributed to the increase with Zamboanga del Sur which posted the highest at 17.67 percent. This was due to the unloading of some fishing boats coming from Zamboanga Sibugay province.
The municipal fisheries sector in Zamboanga Peninsula showed 5.52 percent or 6,594.9 MT increase compared last year. Three provinces contributed to the increase with Zamboanga City which posted the highest at 36.93 percent. This was attributed to the abundance of some pelagic fishes and the intervention of BFAR (distribution of fishing gears to some fisher folk) and less encroachment of commercial fishing vessels in municipal water.
Aquaculture production of Zamboanga Peninsula continuously expanded by 5.49 percent. This was attributed to the increase in area harvested and production of seaweed, because of much higher income associated with the support of the Local Government Units and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the region. #