The Scientific Conference on the Reclamation Project, that happened in Bohol was organized by Asia Center for Sustainable Futures Inc., Panglao Natures Advocate INc. and

Environmental Fight at Bohol still Continues
By Mariam Sollano Media Team

Bohol is known for its richness in marine biodiversity, even placed as among the world’s best dive sites. However, a multi-billion reclamation project of a 650-hectare area off Panglao Bay is being proposed by two big developers – Oasis Leisure Islands Development, Inc. and Panglao Waterfront Development, Inc.

U.S. News Las Vegas reports that Oasis Inc.’s proposal involves the reclamation of four artificial islets, which will be developed as playground, Nature Park, residential or institutional destination and a mini Boracay paradise.

Despite the alternative livelihood for the fisher folk and biodiversity enhancement that Oasis Inc. guarantees to the fishermen and residents of the area, scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) is against the proposed reclamation of the shores of Panglao Island.

What is on stake?

The area that is to be reclaimed as said by fishermen supporting the reclamation, is nothing but sea grasses and even compared it to a mere dessert.

However, Dr. Rene Rollon, a UPMSI scientist specializing on sea grass said that the irreversible impact of covering and destroying sea grasses through reclamation will alter the biodiversity and the marine life that thrives on these sea grasses.

Among these fish and marine species, are the siganids (danggit) which depend on sea grasses on their life cycle and common fish species like the “tulingan” and “tamarong” which are mostly fed by the species living in beds of sea grasses. Therefore, Rollon said that covering those sea grasses in the area will definitely decline the productivity of those fish.

Another concern as said by Rollon, is the known penaeid shrimp “lukon”. This shrimp cannot grow without passing through the mangroves. Although mangrove will not be covered with soil, the tonnage of soil to be dumped in the area can cease the normal function of the mangrove since flows of sea water can’t anymore reach the shore.

Even the white sand of the beaches will be affected. Dr. Anicia Q. Hurtado, a seaweed expert, explained that coralline macroalge and calcareous seaweed, which will be covered in the reclamation, contributes in making the sands white.

UPMSI pointed out to the Boholanos that the data is available and the beauty of their islands is the object that they sell. They must not destroy it.

About The Study

Oasis Inc. questioned the points presented by a local environmental NGO regarding the environmental impact of reclamation project.

“Given that the study conducted seven (7) years ago, there may have been major changes in the site. Hence, there is need for a more recent data to provide a more reliable description of the site,” Oasis Inc. said.

Moreover, Norris Oculam, Oasis Inc. president ensures that Oasis will undertake three levels of environmental study – a study on natural environments that covers land, air, water.

And, Oculam said that the result will be used as basis for Oasis decision whether or not to proceed with the project.

However, The Bohol Standard reports that UP scientists said any environmental study undertaken by Oasis on Panglao shore reclamation will only be a “waste” of money. To them, no study can change what is scientifically real in Bohol’s natural resources which need to be protected.

“Any study won’t change anything unless, those who make the study, distort the facts to favor reclamation,” the scientists reiterated.

The Philippine Earth Justice System said the reclamation issue has now become an international concern. A United Nations study revealed that the sea covering the Bohol Marine Triangle is the center of marine diversity in the whole entire planet.