Cebu oil spill damages mangroves, seaweed farms
The leak also prevents some fisherfolk in Cordova town from venturing out into sea

DISASTER. A fisherman scoops sea grass covered with oil among mangrove trees along the coast of Cordova, near Cebu city on August 19, 2013. Photo by AFP/Ted Aljibe

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The oil from a sunken passenger vessel in Cebu has spread to some aquaculture areas in the province.

“There were fish cages and seaweed farms that have been affected by the oil spill as well as mangrove areas where shellfish are raised,” said Asis Perez, director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Asis, who went to Cebu for an inspection, added they are yet to come up with a definitive report on the extent of the damage. 

Fisherfolk also affected

BFAR also estimated that 1,750 fisherfolk in 13 coastal villages have been affected by the leak. The hardest hit were Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City.

Andres Bojos, director of BFAR Region VII, said they are offering assistance to affected fishermen, but they need “to verify if they are indeed municipal fisherfolk and not just people attempting to gain from calamity assistance.”

Said assistance would be split among those who can still venture out into sea (free 4 liters of everyday gasoline and one liter of engine for motorized boats) and those who can’t (shellfish culture in unaffected mangrove areas).

Cleanup continues

Bojos assured residents of affected areas a cleanup is ongoing.

He said the oil has reached the shoreline of Cordova villages because of prevailing weather conditions brought by the southwest monsoon enhanced by tropical storm Maring.

The oil is leaking out of a passenger ferry, MV St. Thomas Aquinas, owned by 2Go Group Inc. The ferry sank off Talisay City after colliding last Friday with MV Sulpicio Express 7, a cargo vessel owned by Sulpicio Lines. –

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