Mindoro oil spill threatens biodiversity, tourism – Tolentino


Senator Francis Tolentino warned that the oil spill in Mindoro may affect the biodiversity and tourism in the affected areas as he seeks an in-depth assessment that would look into the vast damages brought by said incident.

The senator on Monday disclosed that the extent of the oil spill coming from motor tanker MT Princess Empress already reached major fishing areas, and continues to spread to pristine fishing breeding grounds.

The incident, he said, is threatening the Verde Island Passage, which is considered the world’s “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity” and along Western Visayas where Boracay Island is situated.

“Because the passageway from Mindoro to Romblon via the Verde Island Passage, it would mostly affect Oriental Mindoro and perhaps Boracay,” said Tolentino.

“Today, 18,000 fishermen lost their livelihood. If we fail to contain the oil spill, it will affect thousands more,” the senator added.

Tolentino expressed concern that the Mindoro oil spill incident would be a déjà vu or worse than of the 2006 tragedy when MT Solar-1 sank off the coast of Guimaras, which carried 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel.

“Ngayon, Mr. President, nangyari na naman po ito. The current oil spill trajectory model by marine experts projected that approximately 20,000 hectares of coral reef, 9,900 hectares of mangroves, 6,000 hectares of seagrass may be affected, and the oil spill may also potentially reach as far as the shores of Palawan. This is more far reaching than the damage caused by MT Solar-1,” the senator stressed in his privilege speech.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Floor Leader Sen. Joel Villanueva, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chair Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Sen. Pia Cayetano, threw their full support over Tolentino’s call for an in-depth assessment of the Mindoro oil spill.

“We have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment,” Tolentino said.

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