Philippines’ top beach Boracay ‘highly endangered’

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White-Beach-Boracay-IslandJapanese government agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) together with a group of Japanese and Filipino scientists is sounding the alarm of an “imminent loss” of Boracay’s marine and coastal ecosystems after they discovered that the island’s coral reef ecosystem has been seriously degraded by tourism-related activities over the past years.

They scientists found that coral cover in Boracay Island declined by about 70.5 per cent from 1988 to 2011.T he highest decrease in coral cover in the 23-year period was recorded between 2008 and 2011, when tourist arrivals rose by 38.4 per cent.

Because of the decline, JICA also said that the island is experiencing beach erosion — consequently endangering its white sand shoreline. Coral reefs prevent erosion by lessening the impact of strong waves to the beach, the agency said.

These findings match with results of another study conducted from 2010 to 2015 as part of the Coastal Ecosystem Conversation and Adaptive Management (CECAM) project. Unmonitored snorkeling and diving activities in coral-rich areas contributed to seriously degradation of Boracay’s coral reef ecosystem, the study revealed.

CECAM scientist Miguel Fortes from the University of the Philippines also cautioned that water quality level at the eastern part of the Boracay beach is alarming, making it unsafe for swimming and other human activities. Direct discharge of untreated waste water near the shore brings about poor water quality level that consequently results in frequent algal blooms and coral reef deterioration, Fortes said.

CECAM scientists warned that the sustainability of Boracay’s environment should not be exchanged for short-term economic gains, noting that the coral reef ecosystem is Boracay’s most important resource.

According to sediment analysis, Boracay’s famous white sand is mostly from coral fragments and the seaweed Halimeda. Coral reefs also lessen the impact of strong waves to the beach hence protecting it from sand erosion.

“Through CECAM findings, we hope that (local government units) and policy makers will be able to use scientific and technological knowledge to address critical environment issues affecting the study’s pilot sites,” JICA senior representative Takahiro Morita said.

boracay-waters“Tourism is an important economic driver in the Philippines. By protecting marine resources, we are also helping sustain the tourism industry and jobs creation in the country,” Morita added.

Aside from Boracay, CECAM covered other pilot sites that have their own ecosystem challenges, such as Bolinao in Pangasinan, Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental, Taklong in Guimaras, Naawan in Misamis Oriental, Laguna Lake and Manila Bay in Metro Manila.

CECAM is part of the “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development” established jointly by JICA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Japanese government agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) together with a group of Japanese and Filipino scientists is sounding the alarm of an “imminent loss” of Boracay’s marine and coastal ecosystems after they discovered that the island’s coral reef ecosystem has been seriously degraded by tourism-related activities over the past years.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

White-Beach-Boracay-IslandJapanese government agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) together with a group of Japanese and Filipino scientists is sounding the alarm of an “imminent loss” of Boracay’s marine and coastal ecosystems after they discovered that the island’s coral reef ecosystem has been seriously degraded by tourism-related activities over the past years.

They scientists found that coral cover in Boracay Island declined by about 70.5 per cent from 1988 to 2011.T he highest decrease in coral cover in the 23-year period was recorded between 2008 and 2011, when tourist arrivals rose by 38.4 per cent.

Because of the decline, JICA also said that the island is experiencing beach erosion — consequently endangering its white sand shoreline. Coral reefs prevent erosion by lessening the impact of strong waves to the beach, the agency said.

These findings match with results of another study conducted from 2010 to 2015 as part of the Coastal Ecosystem Conversation and Adaptive Management (CECAM) project. Unmonitored snorkeling and diving activities in coral-rich areas contributed to seriously degradation of Boracay’s coral reef ecosystem, the study revealed.

CECAM scientist Miguel Fortes from the University of the Philippines also cautioned that water quality level at the eastern part of the Boracay beach is alarming, making it unsafe for swimming and other human activities. Direct discharge of untreated waste water near the shore brings about poor water quality level that consequently results in frequent algal blooms and coral reef deterioration, Fortes said.

CECAM scientists warned that the sustainability of Boracay’s environment should not be exchanged for short-term economic gains, noting that the coral reef ecosystem is Boracay’s most important resource.

According to sediment analysis, Boracay’s famous white sand is mostly from coral fragments and the seaweed Halimeda. Coral reefs also lessen the impact of strong waves to the beach hence protecting it from sand erosion.

“Through CECAM findings, we hope that (local government units) and policy makers will be able to use scientific and technological knowledge to address critical environment issues affecting the study’s pilot sites,” JICA senior representative Takahiro Morita said.

boracay-waters“Tourism is an important economic driver in the Philippines. By protecting marine resources, we are also helping sustain the tourism industry and jobs creation in the country,” Morita added.

Aside from Boracay, CECAM covered other pilot sites that have their own ecosystem challenges, such as Bolinao in Pangasinan, Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental, Taklong in Guimaras, Naawan in Misamis Oriental, Laguna Lake and Manila Bay in Metro Manila.

CECAM is part of the “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development” established jointly by JICA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

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