COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
My attention has suddenly shifted to a worsening condition that is given a little concern. It is the destruction of our sea and marine life.
The Philippines is an archipelago linked by great waters surrounding our many islands. The surrounding seas sustain the life within–people, plants, and that of animals.
The sea is our life; always taken for granted owing to its vastness and abundance, like the ever-present air we breathe. We get a considerable amount of food from the sea. We get non-edible products from the sea. We trade and travel through the sea. We hie off to relax near the sea. And lastly, with a sigh of relief, we can throw our garbage to the sea.
But in recent years our sea is in a serious state of ruin. It won’t be long from this present generation that our sea will be dead—cannot anymore be fished by our men, cannot anymore be bathed by our children.
The first problem is siltation, wherein sandy sediments are being carried and deposited to the sea. This is mainly caused by the rampant destruction of our forests. The lack of trees, which hold the waters from the rains and from the rivers of the mountains triggers soil erosion. So does uncontrolled mining and quarrying. As a consequence, there is a gradual but constant flow of sediments that settle at the seabed.
Living organisms under the sea are eventually covered by these sediments, which trap the sunlight that is essential for their growth. But the most greatly affected are the coral reefs. They are not only threatened with death and degeneration by siltation but with slow growth and reproduction.
The existing coral reefs that abound our seas were formed million of years before, only to be diminished by 20th century Philippines. Further, it is reported that for coral reefs to regenerate, it would take at least fifty years—if left undisturbed. If left undisturbed. Coral reefs are the mating and hatching ground for fishes. They also prevent the waves from making a big impact on the shores.
Another major problem is pollution. Dumping both domestic and industrial waste to the sea brings this about. It is reported that domestic waste accounts for 40% of the pollution resulting from the lack of an efficient sewerage system. As a consequence, a great amount of waste from households and business establishments finally end up at the sea.
The presence of waste creates an ecological imbalance, practically altering and threatening marine life. The high content of toxic elements in some areas was observed to cause the emergence of water organisms that results in red tide. There are other causes of red tide but pollution is notably one.
Finally, illegal fishing results in the diminution of fishes in the nearby shores. Coral reefs are not only destroyed but fishes are untimely caught, especially during spawning season. Their pace of reproduction turned out to be inversely proportional with the rise in population eating the commodity. Besides, through the years, the kinds of fishes found in the market are becoming few, their sizes becoming smaller and smaller. This was manifested by the proliferation of Hawol-hawol in Samar.
Now, all the problems posed by our dying sea are caused by man and therefore can be corrected. That is our hope. We must always remember that the sea is part of nature and like the flash flood in Ormoc and the landslide in Ginsaugon, we might not be able to fathom how the sea will finally take its toll on men.