MANILA, Philippines - Despite having waters considered as the country's most polluted, a comprehensive rehabilitation of the famed Manila Bay can still be done, environmental experts and advocates said on Tuesday.
The environmental group Greenpeace and scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) urged the government to enact immediate measures to reverse the bay’s "shocking decline."
“With strong political will, the comprehensive rehabilitation of Manila Bay is not impossible. Government agencies and local government units should not lose sight of fulfilling this goal,” said Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner.
According to the group, Manila Bay serves as a giant waste-dump for the metropolis. "Here, domestic sewage, toxic industrial effluents from factories and shipping operations, leachate from garbage dumps, and runoff from chemical agriculture, converge into a hideous cocktail," it said in a news release.
The UP Marine Science Institute conducted research demonstrations meant to underscore the extent of toxic pollution in the area.
"When you think of Manila Bay, contrasting images come to mind. First of a coastline littered with trash, and second, of a beautiful sunset,” said Dr. Laura David of UP-MSI. “But what is really interesting is that underneath these familiar images, Manila Bay, with all its pollution, still contains life and gives life.”
Greenpeace said water pollution, along with other factors, have resulted in the degradation of Manila Bay and its coastal areas, resulting in an estimated P4 billion in damages yearly, mostly in fisheries, exports, and mortality costs due to waterborne diseases.
In 2006, partial economic valuation of selected uses of Manila Bay's resources estimated more than P8.7 billion a year earned from aquaculture (P 5.1 billion), tourism (P2 billion), and in port, harbors and offshore fisheries.
“Allowing the seas to recover benefits not only the environment but also ourselves,” said Cinches of Greenpeace.
“Manila Bay, representative of the challenges besetting Philippine seas, is dying. Restoring Manila Bay, as well as Philippine seas in general, is not just aesthetic. It brings life and livelihood to coastal communities," he added.