Climate and Environment

Oil from tanker Princess Empress reaches Verde Island — Coast Guard

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Oil from tanker Princess Empress reaches Verde Island � Coast Guard
In this handout photo received from the Philippine Coast Guard and taken on March 2, 2023, a coast guard personnel collects water sample from of an oil spill in the waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. A Philippine tanker carrying 800,000 litres (211,338 gallons) of industrial fuel oil partially sank in the country's archipelagic waters Tuesday, causing a "suspected oil spill" stretching several kilometres, authorities said.
Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The oil spilled by sunken MT Princess Empress has reached the shores of Isla Verde along the marine biodiversity-rich Verde Island Passage (VIP), the Philippine Coast Guard said on Monday.

Capt. Victorino Acosta, station commander of PCG Batangas, told radio DZBB that traces of oil have been sighted on Isla Verde off Batangas City.

"We are currently assessing how many kilometers of the shoreline are affected," Acosta said in Filipino.

According to Acosta, the Coast Guard is anticipating that the oil spill will also affect coastal areas along Batangas Bay and Balayan Bay.

A recent trajectory model by the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute projected that most of the oil from the sunken tanker will reach Calapan in Oriental Mindoro this week.

It explained that the northeast monsoon (amihan) winds, which contained most of the oil to the coasts of Naujan and Pola, are now more variable, allowing the oil to spread northwards.

"It is critical to stop the seepage before the end of the amihan season, otherwise more critical biodiversity areas along the Verde Island Passage may be affected," the UP-MSI said.

Verde Island Passage—which is surrounded by the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Batangas, Romblon and Marinduque—is considered by scientists as the center of the world’s marine biodiversity.

The marine corridor is home to 1,700 fish species, 300 coral species and 36 marine protected areas. Two million people, including fishermen and tourism workers, also depend on VIP’s rich marine resources.

Authorities have yet to recover the sunken tanker and contain the oil spill that has affected more than 143,000 people so far. The incident has also severely disrupted the livelihood of over 13,000 fishers.

READPenalties for firms behind oil spill, assistance for impacted communities sought

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