with Edward Lactaoen
“The gulf is recognized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and by Conservation International as one of the key biodiversity areas in the entire globe.”
Davao Region is one of the most promising regions in Asia. With its magnificent sceneries and accommodating people, it will genuinely capture one’s heart. Davao is undeniably blessed with gifts of natural wonders that are more than the usual. It is blessed with various resources from its mountains down to its bodies of water. It is also the home of different species that are rare to be found in the world. No wonder why it is considered as a haven for biologists and other environmental explorers. But beyond the pictures of wealth, the region is confronted with threats the loss of its gifts especially aquatic life.
Davao Gulf is on the list of the dying out marine resources in the region and the most affected body of water from human activities. In fact, the gulf is recognized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and by Conservation International as one of the key biodiversity areas in the entire globe. However, sad to say, law-breakers are fearlessly taking advantage of the gulfs’ resources resulting to extreme threats. These include illegal fishing activities like dynamite and cyanide fishing. Activities like cutting of mangroves, sand quarrying that kills sea grasses and conversions of coastal area into fishponds area also added menaces.
The coastal settlers from Panacan to Lasang have also contributed dangers to Davao Gulf. Hundred tons of waste were brought down to the ocean by these residents. Even settlers from upland and lowland areas where soil has eroded due to logging activities, and residues of fertilizers and pesticides from various plantations and mine tailings have contributed wastes.
Wastewaters from household industries, public markets, plantations and other establishments have also ravaged the gulf.
It’s not just Davao Gulf’s water that our LGUs and NGOs want to protect. The wealthy marine wildlife of Davao Gulf is highlighted to be preserved and rehabilitated.
Davao Gulf is known to be the house of 20 species of mangroves which are resting grounds for migratory birds and spawning grounds for demersal fishes. Nine species of seagrass that serve as feeding areas for dugongs can also be found in the gulf. It is also home to 11 species of cetaceans and 5 species of marine turtles namely the hawksbill, loggerhead, green sea, olive ridley and leatherback turtles. The gulf also boasts around 412.1 kilometers of reef formation, and being within the Coral Triangle, also a great coral diversity. With these aquatic resources, it is truly proven that the region’s gulf is wildly rich.
But the lack of cooperation from the citizens and business industries of Davao will only lead to risking of this wealth. It has been said that the Davao Gulf could be the next Manila Bay, and seeing all this data on how important it is in housing a diverse number of flora and fauna, it should be imperative that measures be taken to avert the gulf’s deteriorating condition.
Moved to Save
In the spirits of Filipino as “makakalikasan” various organizations were moved to save Davao Gulf.
The Davao Gulf Management Council (DGMC) has put forth several projects and programs for the monitoring and safeguarding of Davao Gulf. Extensive management programs have been put in motion in an attempt to hamper any further pollution and destruction of the gulf and all it holds. The council has also formed the Davao Gulf Environmental Protection Alliance; focusing on developing a law enforcement strategy to protect the gulf from harmful activity. An Environmental mapping project has also been put into motion by the council for better surveillance of the gulf.
The EgoGov funded by USAID has also taken part in securing the welfare of Davao Gulf. Forums and discussions where student leaders and campus journalists served as main delegates were conducted to encourage them to disseminate information regarding the gulf’s situations.
Alongside these programs, DGMC has launched the Piso Para Sa Gulpo fund-raising campaign, patterned after ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata tin can coin banks.
Although the council has taken in the initiative in preparing programs for the benefit of the gulf, all the responsibilities must not be handed to them. Small individual efforts such as coastal clean-ups and awareness raising programs can go a long way if all of us work together. If every single person’s efforts were brought as one, and we coupled that with the programs that our local governments have begun, then we can surely keep Davao Gulf and its immense treasure of biodiversity. The call of Mother Nature is not only to be aware of the issues at hand but to be involved instead. Dabawenyos, collectively – let’s save Davao Gulf!