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DENR, communities create oil spill booms from organic materials to save marine ecosystems

Oil spill booms

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) continues its oil spill containment efforts with the local government units, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the local communities to restrict the oil leaked by sunken MT Princess Empress from afflicting surrounding marine protected areas (MPAs) in the MIMAROPA and Western Visayas regions by installing spill booms made from locally available organic materials.

Booms are temporary floating barriers used to contain marine spills, protect sensitive wetlands, and assist in recovery. The trajectory map of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) serves as a guide to install the booms. The UPMSI projected that the oil spill could reach northern Palawan mainland and threaten over 36,000 hectares of marine habitats.

The use of improvised spill booms is a feasible precautionary measure to prevent damage to marine environments. These booms are made from indigenous materials which are readily accessible to the immediate communities.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) MIMAROPA, together with the PCG and LGU, has installed provisional spill booms made of cogon and sawali in Casiligan River and Calimawawa River in Oriental Mindoro province to prevent the oil spill from reaching the mangrove forests, coral reefs, and other marine life.

oil spill booms from organic materials

Coconut shingles, which have effective adsorption capacities, are also vital materials in fabricating spill booms. These are used with nets in Brgy. Misong, Pola, and with rice straws in Brgy. Aplaya in Poblacion and Brgy. Anilao in Bongabong.

Coastal municipalities not affected by the oil spill have started fabricating and deploying spill booms two kilometers away from their shorelines as a precaution against the spill.

Imalaguan Island MPA in Cuyo, Palawan now has about 100-meter booms, protecting its sanctuaries inhabited by pelagic fishes, coral reefs, and mangrove forests. Volunteers in Roxas, Palawan, which caters 13 MPAs across its 11 barangays, also started deploying spill booms.

Oil spill booms

Meanwhile, the DENR-EMB Western Visayas worked with the local government of Caluya, Antique and PCG to undertake cleanup operations at the shorelines of Sitio Sabang in Brgy. Tinogboc. This included the fabrication and completion of a 1,363-meter improvised spill boom using nets and coconut shingles to help contain the oil spillage, and prevent it from reaching the shore.

The DENR remains vigilant in protecting the country’s environment and natural resources, especially those in the MIMAROPA and Western Visayas regions, whose island provinces are home to hundreds of marine protected areas rich with marine biodiversity, coral cover quality and diversity, and fish composition that have significant value to communities.

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