Corporate News

Isla Verde, Center of Marine Biodiversity, Under Threat

Between Batangas and Mindoro Island is the Isla Verde passage marine corridor, which teems with colorful coral reefs and exotic marine life, earning it the distinction as one of the most beautiful diving sites in the world and a hostpot of marine biodiversity.

Noted American marine biologist Kent Carpenter once said that the Isla Verde passage is the epicenter of world marine biodiversity. In particular, the Mapulang Bato (Red Stone) site in the area is so beautiful that divers from European countries regularly go to the site to witness its unparalleled marine wonders.

According to a three-year study titled "The Center of the Center of Marine of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity: The Philippine Islands" by the Global Marine Species Assessment of the World Conservation Union, the Isla Verde passage has 1,736 overlapping marine species over a 10-kilometer area, the highest concentration of marine life in the world

Because of the increased flow of tourists into the site, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the Isla Verde passage as a marine sanctuary and national protected area in November 2006.

The presence of poachers and tourists as well as the construction of port and energy facilities has combined to threaten marine species in the area such as sea turtles, humphead wrasses, giant groupers and giant clams, which thrive in the area.

The University of the Philippines Marine Biology Society (UPMS) said large-scale pollution endanger the coral reefs and marine life around Isla Verde, which prompted them to undertake a coastal cleanup recently.

On September 15, some 110 school kids aged 7 to 12 from a local elementary schools participated in the coastal clean up organized by the UPMS and sponsored by CDO-Foodsphere, Inc., makers of Idol Cheesedog, and Odyssey Foundation, Inc.

The school children, all from Barangay San Agapito, Isla Verde, were given lectures on marine biodiversity conservation. They were also thought on the proper method of coastal clean up based on international standards.

During the actual clean up the kids were grouped into five, each with 25 members. The students collected over 5,700 pieces or 130 kilos of trash from a 400-meter beach and two bridge waterways in Barangay San Agapito.

"The effort you are making today is the first step to ensuring there are cleaning oceans and waterways year-round," The UP marine biology society told the children.

According to UPMS, plastics and polymers accounted for about 89 percent of the total non-biodegradable trash collected from the island, while the rest were glass and metals.

"These indicate the shoreline and recreational activities contribute most of the trash found in the coastal area of Barangay San Agapito. These include debris from fast food, beach goers, sports/games, festivals, litter from street, storm drains, and others," the UPMS said.

Ana Uranza, CDO brand manager, said the company helped finance the coastal cleanup in support of the cause of organizations and entities that serve as good influence to children.

"We supported this project to instill the sense of responsibility among children, thereby creating an 'Idol' factor in them," Uranza said. "Cleaning up the coast to protect the environment and secure the health of inhabitants and dwelling species in the area is very commendable and inspiring. For this reason, these students can be undeniably considered as an 'Idol' to society."

The data gathered from the cleanup will form part of a global environmental initiative by 3,000 volunteers from over 90 countries who are studying how marine life can be sustained in the future. Organizers will be able to identify the activities and general sources causing the debris or coastal solid waste.

An annual report will then be created and distributed to help educate the public, business, industry and government officials about marine debris issues.

Isla Verde has a 1,625-hectare land area composed of six barangays and a population of 10,000 people. It can be reached in 45 minutes via boat ride from Batangas City.

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