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Volume 26 No. 5 September - October 2000 ISSN-0115-0960


All articles are incumbent to the current period.

Published by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

What’s inside . . . Editorial

Pollution endangers Saving the Manila Bay

Manila Bay’s seagrass beds 2
Carlo Castillo
Phytoplankton in the
Manila Bay waters: Their
ecological and economic
importance 3
M anila Bay provides a variety of uses: a source of food, employment,
income, services and recreation. It is well-known for its beautiful sunset
and is considered one of the best natural harbors in Eastern Asia.
More than 50% of the country’s gross national products comes from the Manila
Bay -- through fishing and aquaculture, manufacturing, shipping, agriculture,
mining and quarrying and tourism. Manila Bay also boasts of its wetlands,
The coral reefs of Manila mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and seagrass beds, among other natural
Bay: Their alarming decline 4
On the other hand, behind this grandeur is an ugly reality. The precious resources
of the Manila Bay are in serious environmental trouble. Pollution and destruction
Overfishing depletes fish of the habitats, population expansion and rapid urbanization, uncontrolled coast
population in the Manila and basin development, the red tide phenomenon (causing paralytic shellfish
poisoning) and mismanagement are some of the major threats to the sustainability
Bay 5 and productivity of the Manila Bay.

Transboundary pollution in Today, extensive exploitation of natural resources renders Nature incapable of
regenerating itself. Some ecosystems may eventually “die” and the delicate
the seas of East Asia: A balance of nature will be greatly disrupted. The burden of keeping the
glimpse of the Manila Bay sustainability of the ecosystems should be left not on nature alone, but also on
society. If the uncontrolled and destructive human activities in the Manila Bay
problem 6 continue, the bay in the long run could no longer provide all the benefits people
derive from it -- ecological, economic, or aesthetic. The result would be
Gone are the mangroves catastrophic.

of the Manila Bay 8 The prevailing threats in the Manila Bay are not isolated. Rather, they are
transboundary in nature with long-term (and perhaps irreversible) ecological and
Earthwatch 9 socioeconomic repercussions, especially for the East Asian Region. To address
these transboundary problems, the Partnerships in Environmental Management
for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) was launched in October 1999. The
Wetlands of Manila Bay partnerships share a common vision: to formulate and implement strategies and
action plans to ensure that the “seas of East Asia can continue contributing to the
face rapid depletion 10 well-being of the people of the region.”

Pollution in the In the Philippines, local partnerships have paved the way for the Manila Bay
Declaration 2001 wherein stakeholders of the Manila Bay, individually and
Manila Bay threatens collectively, recognize “the clear linkage of environmental degradation
shellfisheries 12 and the serious consequences to coastal populations,

Off the Press September 2003 ) page 10

Pollution endangers The seagrass beds surveyed covered
less than a hectare and they might be
Manila Bay’s seagrass beds considered remnants of the once-thriving
seagrass and seaweed communities.
These remaining seagrass beds
Michael Lopez continuously face threats of degradation.
It is believed that only a much smaller
area of seagrass beds exists in the
Manila Bay.

Seagrass bed depletion

in the Manila Bay
The depletion of seagrass beds is known
to result in high water turbidity and lower
production of seagrasses and their
associated fauna. In the Manila Bay,
excessive sedimentation primarily
contributes to the fast depletion of
seagrasses. Excessive sedimentation
can physically smother the seagrasses.
Or it can cause extreme water turbidity
such that photosynthesis is impaired and
filter feeders eventually die. Major
sediment sources in the bay include
improper mining, agriculture and poor
forestry management. Other factors
affecting seagrasses are human
encroachment, seagrass modification,
introduction of water-borne pollutants
and destruction of submerged and
fringing vegetation.

O ne of the major coastal

ecosystems with beneficial roles
in tropical coastal waters is the
seagrass community. Seagrass beds
Status of seagrass beds
in the Manila Bay
The Philippines has 16 known species of
seagrasses, the highest number in the
Encroachment by “land reclamation” for
development has reduced the habitat for
seagrasses. Both dredging and filling
are composed of rooted, seed-bearing Indo-Pacific Region. Some of these have greatly disturbed the bottom and
marine plants (halophytes). They occur species are the tropical eelgrass largely removed areas for seagrasses to
in shallow, near-shore coastal waters (Enhalus acoraides), the fiber-strand grow, including those areas for soft-
that are sheltered from high wave grass (Halodule pinofolia) and the bottom organisms. Shrimp farming and
energy, and in estuaries and lagoons. Halodule uninervis. fishing in the bay have displaced several
The seagrass epiphytes and the hectares of seagrass beds and
abundant detritus found in seagrass A 1996 assessment of coastal habitats mangroves.
beds comprise a highly productive in the Manila Bay revealed that six
habitat that supports a large quantity of seagrass species and 28 seaweeds Pollution of near-shore waters comes
commercially-important organisms. thrive in the bay. All seagrass species from domestic wastes, oil and gas spilled
recorded were from Patungan, from boats and ships and solid wastes
Importance of seagrass beds Maragondon, Cavite with Cymodocea that have accumulated in shallow areas
Seagrass beds harbor a rich rotundata dominating the area. The within the bay. Pollution has greatly
assemblage of marine organisms that all seaweed Sargassum spp. dominated damaged seagrass communities.
contribute to the important role of the coastal communities of Alas-asin, However, a major and long-term threat to
seagrasses in the marine ecosystem. Mariveles, Bataan and of Corregidor seagrasses in the world comes from
Seagrass beds support at least 172 Island. Another seaweed, coastal eutrophication.
species of fish epiphytes, 46 species of Chaetomorpha crassa, still thrives and
invertebrates, 51 species of seaweeds, dominates the bed of Freedom Island, Surface water runoff and groundwater
45 species of algae, one species of sea Parañaque. The area surveyed in containing excessive nutrients from
turtle and of dugong. Pamarawan, Bulacan was devoid of fertilizers or sewage promote harmful
vegetation due to the proliferation of algal bloom. Excessive algal growth
A primary ecological function of “baklads” (fish corrals), and perhaps shades the seagrasses at the bottom,
seagrass beds is to provide nursery because of high sediment accumulation interfering with the light passage and
areas for a variety of fishes and and pollution carried along the Bulacan
crustaceans that migrate to other River. The previous resource ecological
habitats. This contributes significantly to assessment made in 1993 reported that

fisheries productivity. Gracilaria verrucosa and Tolypiocladia
glomerulata were abundant in the area. page 11

2 CANOPY International September - October 2000

Phytoplankton in the Manila Bay waters:
Their ecological and economic importance
Warren Bidaure

M arine organisms are grouped

into three: the benthos, which
are mostly the familiar plants
and animals living at the bottom of
tidepools; the nekton, which include the
biomass to chlorophyll-a (i.e.,
autotrophic index).

Chlorophyll-a analysis describes the

biomass productivity of phytoplankton in
dynamite as they absorb liquid
nitroglycerine; in the production of
cement as they increase the durability
and strength of concrete; and in the
production of metal polish and toothpaste
free-swimming organisms; and the certain areas of Laguna Lake (Marinez- as they serve as mild abrasive agent.
plankton, a Greek term that means Goss, 1999). Chlorophyll-a value in the Some diatoms found with oil deposits are
“wandering”, which include the drifters of study sites ranged from 21.164 to used by geologists to determine areas
the oceans. Generally, nekton are the 47.363 mg/L, suggesting high biomass with oil deposition.
largest of the marine animals while the production of phytoplankton.
plankton are the smallest. Most plankton Phytoplankton in the Manila Bay
in Philippine coastal waters are Another major ecological importance of No concrete data are available to support
microscopic. The animal plankton are phytoplankton is that they are at the any claim of declining population of
called zooplankton and the plant bottom of the food chain in the marine phytoplankton in the Manila Bay. Only
plankton, phytoplankton. environment. They are consumed by taxonomic identification of 61 genera are
certain group of predators at the upper found in the bay. Many changes have
Phytoplankton: “Pastures of the level of the food chain. Decrease in the been observed in its marine environment.
oceans” number of phytoplankton indicates In a 1999 study, the highest diversity and
Phytoplankton are described as the lesser number of predators at a density of phytoplankton were observed
“pastures of the oceans”. They consist particular trophic level. from January to March 1993; the lowest
primarily of diatoms and dinoflagellates were in April 1993 (PRRP, 1999).
and are known for their ability to produce Economic importance
their own food through photosynthesis Phytoplankton are economically Sampling of phytoplankton done in the
(i.e., autotrophic). They need energy important for their rock-like deposits. Manila Bay from November 1995 to April
from the sunlight, dissolved carbon The siliceous walls of diatoms do not 1996 indicated that phytoplankton
dioxide and nutrients in the water. decay, thus, a great number of empty population was dominated by diatoms.
Phytoplankton include small fragments walls accumulate at the bottom of the Skeletonema was the most dominant
of green algae, brown algae and red water for the plant to live. These rock- diatom during observation in November
algae. like deposits are called diatomaceous 1995 (86% relative abundance). In April
earth, which are very thick and many are 1996 observation, however,
Ecological importance worked as open quarries. These Chactoceros was relatively most
An estimated 80% of the oxygen of the materials are used in the preparation of abundant (52%). Observation of
world is produced by the phytoplankton certain solutions by filtering out
through photosynthesis. Phytoplankton impurities; in the production of

use carbon dioxide and water as raw
materials to produce their own food, and page 10
release oxygen into the marine
environment. Carbon dioxide is the
product of respiration of marine animals,
and from the decomposition of their
organic components. It is used by
marine plants to produce simple sugars
through photochemical reaction. Simple
sugars are then converted into complex
substances and stored as food reserves
for future use.

Chlorophyll pigments, the basic

biological component involved in the
photosynthesis of plants and algae, are
widely accepted as an indicator of
biomass productivity and the
physiological condition of algae. They
are also a useful indicator of water
quality, based on the ration of algal

September - October 2000 CANOPY International 3

The coral reefs of Manila Bay: Their alarming decline
Cynde Pagador

C oral reefs serve as breeding

grounds and home for fishes and
many other sea creatures. Coral
reefs help in maintaining ecological
were observed, comprising 38 genera
and 53 species. In 1996, the ICLARM
report showed that live coral cover (both
hard and soft) ranged from 10.9% to
Coral reefs expose the richness of the
sea. They create a landscape of tranquility
and bounty; and a picture of life and
balance, nurturing every species living 70.9%. Living hard corals were mainly diversity. Coral reefs offer the feeling of
and depending on these reefs. dominated by massive and encrusting amazement… They are a wonder beneath
nonacroporal species. the vast Manila Bay surface waters. But
Along the Manila Bay area, where how long will the wonder last? With the
fishing is the dwellers’ mainstay, the Calumpang, a marine reserve in Cavite,
seemingly unabated deterioration of the
economic and environmental importance was observed to have the largest live
of coral reefs cannot be coral cover with an average of 69.4% in
bay, does the wonder cease?
overemphasized. The Manila Bay has good condition. Fair coral condition was
experienced tremendous pressure not observed in Marbella (36.3%), Alas-asin
only from overfishing, illegal fishing and (37.39%) and Corregidor (25.1%), Reef stakeholders of the Manila Bay.
destructive fishing, but also from cover in Lucanin, Mariveles was 10.85%
population expansion and industrial and in poor condition. To establish a more credible and useful
agricultural spin-offs. database, BFAR, or any other government
The report also identified dynamite agency, or any private institution, should
A resource and ecological assessment fishing, cyanide fishing, siltation, trawl conduct another ecological and resource
was conducted by the Bureau of fishing, among other activities, as agents assessment of the Manila Bay. With the
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of coral reef destruction. Coral reef expected data, more relevant programs
(BFAR) in 1992-1993. The study destruction would mean loss of habitat can be mapped out and responsive
focused on coral cover, species diversity for fish, crustaceans and other marine projects carried out to rehabilitate the
and coral reef structure, location and species; reduced fishing production; remaining coral reefs.
distribution. Results showed that coral lessened tourism potential; diminished
reefs could be found in Mariveles, physical protection; degraded Reference
Bataan, in Cavite and in the Corregidor biodiversity; and less carbon
Island. Data obtained during the study sequestration. ICLARM, 1996. Resource and Ecological
may no longer represent the coral reef Assessment of Manila Bay Philippines:
Results of Monitoring Activities (1995-
status of the present. However, there Possible recommendations for coral reef 1996).
are some indications that coral reefs in rehabilitation should come from both
the Manila Bay have declined. public and private sectors. Information
campaigns specifically on the importance
The author is Senior Science Research
In the 1992 assessment, 14 families of of coral reefs should be conducted to Specialist of the Technology Transfer
hard corals and one family of soft coral educate more people, especially the and Information Division, DENR-
Region III.

4 CANOPY International September - October 2000

Overfishing depletes fish population in the Manila Bay
Francisco Evasco

T he Manila Bay is one of the

oldest traditional fishing grounds
in the Philippines and a habitat of
335 known species of pelagic and
demersal fishes. Two types of fishing
operations are observed in the bay:
commercial fishing and municipal and/
or small-scale fishing. The former is
defined in the Philippine Fisheries
Decree of 1975 (Presidential Decree
704) as fishing for commercial purposes
in waters more than 7 fathoms deep with
the use of fishing boats more than 3 gt.
The latter uses vessels weighing 0.40 gt.
This also involves fisheries that use
bagnets and ringnets and nonmotorized
bancas with an average distance travel
of 11 km.

Fisheries and aquaculture are among

the major sources of livelihood around is considered an environmentally-critical demersal invertebrates. Major changes
Manila Bay, constituting about 2.77% of project, for it may create a negative noted in catch composition included an
the total commercial fish production in impact (e.g., water pollution) on the increase in the relative abundance of
the country. Total fish production from environment, if not properly planned and squid, shrimp and small pelagic species
Manila Bay generally increased from managed. such as herring and anchovies. The
851,020 t in 1992 to 963,657 t in 1996. disappearance of turbot and lactarid, and
Around 30% of the country’s population The tremendously growing population the decline of usually large commercial
dwells near the Manila Bay. As of May within the bay area creates greater species like snapper, sea catfish and
2000 (National Statistics Office, 2001), demand for food. Filipinos consume 40 mackerel, were further noted.
23,045,442 people were living in the kg of fish per capita annually. This could
area and 42.6% or 9,826,662 were mean an alarming decline in fish catch of One particular species, the “kalaso” or
staying along coastal areas. almost 69%, where catch per unit of the common lizard fish (Saurida tumbil),
effort is the number or weight (in kg) of used to be caught in large numbers, has
One of the most important fishery fish caught by a unit of fishing effort per now dwindled in number and size.
products from the bay is bangus hour of fishing (BFAR, 1995; Tambuyog
(milkfish); it is a popular food item in the Development Center, 1990). This is often Another quantified evidence of fish
Filipino diet. The cost-benefit analysis used as a measure of fish abundance or decline was the relative shortness and
for milkfish culture prepared by the fishing gear efficiency. high exploitation of abundant species.
DENR in 1997 suggested a net income Fishes were caught easily such that most
of P115,939.50. This income was Such decline in fish population was of them had no chance to grow at
derived from an initial 60,000 pieces of further observed in the trawlable harvestable size.
bangus fry with an annual production demersal biomass. The bottom-dwelling
cost of P168,330.50. This number of fry or demersal biomass was measured via Due to excessive fishing and the
could produce about 4.061 t of fish the “swept-area” method. Results eventual decline of mature fish
within a year. The total municipal fish showed that from a surface area of 1,800 population, some fishes were unable to
production in the bay from 1980 to 2000 sq km established in 1947, stalk density complete their life cycle, with more being
showed an increasing trend from 14,588 was 4.61 t/sq km, or about 8,290 t of caught while juvenile. Fishing pressure
t to 20,358 t, with a peak production demersal biomass. In 1993, however, has eventually led to the disappearance
recorded in 1990 followed by a steady stalk density was only about 0.47 t/sq or reduction of fish population.
decline. km, or 840 t of demersal biomass.
Overfishing has been identified the most
Aquaculture is currently considered Similarly, low fish yield was observed in likely cause of rapidly declining fish
ecologically-advantageous because it the bay, particularly the composition of population and catch, both in terms of
increases fish yield, thereby, decreasing species caught. The population of finfish species composition and size. This
fishing pressure. Fishpond development decreased which led to a corresponding
increase in the relative abundance of

) page 9

September - October 2000 CANOPY International 5

C oastal and marine resources
have become a vital component
of the economies of many
coastal states and archipelagic countries
Transboundary pollution in the seas
of East Asia: A glimpse of the
Manila Bay problem
in the East Asian Region. Economic
development in these countries is
inextricably linked with the productivity
and utilization of coastal and marine Vicente Tuddao, Jr.
resources. In the developing countries of
the region, a large segment of the
population (which constitutes the
fisherfolk, or families belonging to the source of spoilage and degradation of The catchment areas are bounded by the
low-income bracket) depends heavily on seawaters, reversing the sustained Sierra Madre mountain range to the east,
coastal resources for living. The trend of productivity and decimating the life- the Caraballo mountains to the north, the
increasing population along coastal support system of marine waters. The Zambales mountains to the northwest
zones, where most of the economic vast bodies of water which dovetail all and the Bataan mountains to the west.
activities take place, has affected the these nations into a single regional Freshwater inflow has been estimated at
regenerative capacity of the coastal and cooperating entity includes the South 6.25 cu km/year. Seasonal and annual
marine resources. China Sea, the East China Sea, the variations in discharges are pronounced,
Sulu-Celebes Sea, the Yellow Sea and with the largest input occurring in August
Pollution from land and sea has become the Indonesian Sea -- all these are vital and the lowest in April.
a major cause of the depletion of coastal in the development of the economies of
and marine resources. Therefore, the East Asia. Manila Bay has a coastline of
management of coastal and marine approximately 190 km and a surface
resources must be anchored on Countries of the East Asian Region are a area of about 1,800 sq km. It consists of
integrated and holistic strategies. This home to more than 1.8 billion people. a gently sloping basin with depth
requires the unwavering support and They boast of rich marine resources, increasing at a rate of 1 m/km from the
cooperation of the government, both coral reefs and mangrove areas. The interior to the entrance. The bay has a
local and national, in dealing with seas of East Asia are rich fishing mean depth of 17 m and volume of 31 cu
domestic concerns and in addressing grounds, contributing more than 40% of km.
the pressing problem of transboundary the world’s fisheries production.
pollution in the seas of East Asian For its crucial importance to the economy
countries. Framework for regional cooperation and ecological balance of the country’s
Collective action to address coastal and capital, the Manila Bay was declared a
The pollution of the seas: marine environmental problems can be pollution hotspot by the Partnerships in
A regional perspective achieved by identifying common Environmental Management for the Seas
The pollution of seawaters defies concerns among affected countries and of East Asia (PEMSEA). Through the
boundaries, as sea debris and polluted by establishing strong cooperation years, Manila Bay has become a “sink” of
seawater tend to move toward low among them. Common concerns among heavy pollutions emanating from land-
gradient, unspoiled water. This is due to East Asian countries include political, based activities such as mining,
the inherent characteristics of the open social, cultural and environmental deforestation, indiscriminate disposal of
seas and the ocean wave patterns welfare. Although these nations are toxic liquid and solid wastes from
which are influenced by the movement separated by sea boundaries, each is not industries, commercial and domestic
and direction of air masses, bottom isolated from transboundary pollution. activities. In addition, the overexploitation
topography of the sea and geography. of marine resources, the use of illegal
Building partnership among nations has fishing gears and methods and the
The countries comprising the East Asian become the rallying point for regional continuing oil spill from sea vessels
Region are: Brunei Darussalam, cooperation. Establishing a genuine, immensely contribute to the degradation
Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s collective effort among the governments of the bay.
Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, of East Asia is deemed necessary to
Malaysia, the Philippines, Republic of resolve transboundary pollution problems More specifically, primary activities in
Korea, Singapore, Thailand and of their respective seas. catchment areas and along the perimeter
Vietnam. These countries share not only of the bay like agriculture, forestry and
common sea and ocean borders, but Manila Bay: A pollution hotspot? fishery further deteriorate the bay. Many
also numerous commonalities with Manila Bay is a semi enclosed estuary, industries ranging form manufacturing to
respect to demography, culture, history, connected to the South China Sea via a quarrying aggravate the problem. Major
and to some extent, racial origin. 16.7 km-wide entrance. It covers three manufacturing industries include food
regions: Region III (Central Luzon), and beverage companies, chemical
The economic development of East Region IV and the National Capital companies, pharmaceuticals,
Asian Region is growing at a fast pace Region (NCR). It is bordered by NCR petrochemical and electronics industries.
fueled by strong development of the and the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga,
Region’s sea-based industries. These Bulacan and Cavite. It receives drainage
industries are ironically the main from approximately 17,000 sq km of
watershed with 26 catchment areas.
) page 7

6 CANOPY International September - October 2000

Transboundary… from page 6 Department of Environment and Natural identification, selection and
Resources (DENR), recognizes its implementation of appropriate actions to
commitment in addressing problems of control risk. The basic premise of risk
Reclamation and construction activities coastal and marine environment management is that not all human
contribute to the accumulation of degradation and in establishing regional activities have adverse affect on the
suspended particulates in the bay. cooperation in finding appropriate environment. Risk management
Agriculture and forestry, especially along solutions. The DENR Administrative recognizes that environmental protection
the catchment areas of the rivers, also Order No 2000-38, establishes the also entails certain economic costs.
contribute to pollution by discharging support system for the GEF/UNDP/IMO
agrochemical and agricultural wastes Regional Program on Building Concluding note
and by promoting excessive soil erosion. Partnership for the Seas of East Asia. In Finding solution to transboundary
line with this, the Manila Bay pollution in the seas of East Asia requires
Domestic wastes and sewage from river Environmental Management Project concerted effort and strong cooperative
catchment and from communities (MBEMP) was born. action among affected countries. In the
around the bay enter into the bay. Philippines, the creation of the MBEMP is
Pollution brought about by inadequate The MBEMP is implemented by the a welcome initiative towards regional
solid waste management program DENR to come up with strategic plans for cooperation to address transboundary
continues to be a serious environmental the protection, conservation and pollution of the seas. It is hoped that
problem. Between 5,000 and 6,000 t of rehabilitation of the Manila Bay and its through this project, the Philippines
solid wastes are generated annually in watershed areas. under its five-year plan, would be able to conserve and protect
Metro Manila, with only a small volume MBEMP aims to develop coastal the Manila Bay and its watershed areas,
handled in the solid waste management strategy, environmental risk assessment, and, eventually, contribute to saving the
facilities. integrated information management seas of East Asia and invigorate
system and environmental investment. It economic development in the region.
At present, less than 7% of the also aims to formulate and implement
population in 11 major areas in Metro operational plan, develop economic References
Manila, or an estimated combined master plan and formulate integrated
monitoring and resource valuation Department of Environment and Natural
population of about 8.4 million (based on Resources. DAO No. 2000-38. Quezon
the 1995 census), has access to scheme.
adequate sewerage system. About 8.0
million people in these areas are More specifically, the project seeks to ____________. Special Order No. 2000-57.
contributing to waste pollution, directly at apply environmental risk assessment and Quezon City.
the bay or via river systems. risk management strategies to address
Furthermore, the existing sewerage transboundary environmental problems/
system directly leads to an outfall into issues in seas of East Asia. The author is Senior Science Research
the bay. Untreated domestic sewage are Specialist of the Technology Transfer
discharged directly into river systems Environmental risk assessment involves and Information Division, DENR-
along the shorelines. estimating potential harm of human
Region III.
activities to the ecosystem or to public
Finding structural solution health. Environmental risk management,
The Philippine government, through the on the other hand, involves the
The aim of science is not
to open the door to infinite
wisdom, but to set a limit
to infinite error.
Bertolt Brecht 1898-1956
The Life of Galileo (1939)

The unleashed power of the

atom has changed everything
save our modes of thinking and
we thus drift toward
unparalleled catastrophe.
Albert Einstein 1879-1955
Telegram to prominent Americans,
24 May 1946, in New York Times
25 May 1946

September - October 2000 CANOPY International 7

Gone are the mangroves
of the Manila Bay
Major causes of mangrove loss
Leonor Santos Major causes of mangrove loss along the
Manila Bay include conversion of land
areas to give way to aquaculture, salt
bed, land reclamation for human

M anila Bay is one of the Economically, mangroves provide settlement and industrial development.
country’s national assets. numerous resources, including security Logging or clear-cutting of mangrove
Aside from being a venue of for livelihood of coastal dwellers. They species for fuelwood also causes
many of the country’s historical events, are sources of tannin, timber, fuelwood, mangrove decline.
the bay has been popularly known as pole and other forest products.
the country’s “gateway” to political, Other possible causes include pollutions
economic and social centers. Over Generally, the mangrove ecosystem (i.e., oil spill, chemical discharge, solid
several decades, the Manila Bay has along the Manila Bay reveals its wastes and excessive sediments) that
been endowed with vast and beautiful importance as a “life-support system” for clog root systems of mangrove stands.
natural resources and unspoiled sustained production and survival of the Pest infestation and lahar suffocation
ecosystem. Its mangrove ecosystem living components of the bay, and of its have further caused the destruction and
used to be one of the best to mention. symbiotic association with its nonliving loss of mangrove areas in the National
The Manila Bay mangrove ecosystem is components. Capital Region and in Pampanga.
a unique association of plant and animal
species with great potential for both Degradation of mangrove forests Potential impact of mangrove
ecological and socioeconomic uses. Today, mangrove forests along the loss in the Manila Bay
Mangroves are found in coastal areas Manila Bay are getting scarce. In terms If mangrove destruction continues, the
and estuaries along the bay. of land area, an estimated 54,000 ha of Manila Bay would eventually lose all
mangrove forest occurred along the valuable natural resources, as well as the
Ecological and economic importance Manila Bay during the latter part of the living organisms that depend on such
Ecologically, mangroves protect the nineteenth century. After about a resources. Regardless of the extent of
open coasts from strong winds and hundred years, 1990 estimate showed destruction, mangrove loss could disrupt
waves and support in the building up of that only 2,000 ha of mangrove forest vital ecological functions. This include
lands. They serve as buffers that protect was left, which further declined to 794 ha breeding, spawning and nursery grounds
seagrasses and seaweeds as well as in 1995. The provinces of Pampanga, for various marine organisms; natural
coral reefs from excessive Bataan and Bulacan, and the town of buffer from strong wave impact; and
sedimentation. Navotas in Metro Manila, had the most protective barrier against coastal erosion
significant losses of mangrove forests. and siltation.
Mangrove ecosystem serves as Only five families of mangrove species
reservoir and habitat for a wide range of now dominate in these areas, namely: Another potential impact of mangrove
aquatic and other marine species. They Rhizophora mucronata, Nypa fruticans, loss is the eventual destruction of coral
provide nesting for migratory birds and Sonneratia alba, Avicennia marina, A. reefs, seagrass beds and other important
feeding areas for other commercially officinalis and Aegiceras corniculatum. marine habitats. The productivity of
important fishes and invertebrates. marine animals would also be affected,
particularly those commercially-important
species. If this happens, people who
depend largely on fishing and other
coastal-based or marine-based livelihood
would suffer economically.


Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

1995. Fisheries sector program -
Resources and ecological assessment of
the Manila Bay. Final report. BFAR-
Department of Agriculture, Quezon City.

The author is Science Research

Specialist I of the Technology Transfer
and Information Division, DENR-
Region III.

8 CANOPY International September - October 2000

Earthwatch According to a report, acid rain problem
in the Philippines and in other Asian
countries would grow rapidly in the early
21st century, as sulfur dioxide pollution
Praxedes Silvoza would triple in 2010.

H eavy metals in agricultural soils

are a major concern. Taken up
by crops, these heavy metals
may enter the food chain and
contaminate human food. Studies of
Roughly 2.8 billion people live in cities,
according to the United Nations
Population Fund (UNPF). By 2015, that
number will have risen to 3.9 billion,
nearly three-quarters of them in the
According to some scientists at the
United States Geological Survey, the
seas are rising nearly one-tenth of an
crops growing in contaminated soils developing world. inch each year, fed by rivers of melting
show that levels of heavy metals are glaciers and ice sheets around the
generally higher in the roots than in the globe. At the current rate of melting, the
edible grain or leaves. Even as little as
***** seas could rise another foot over the
Baseline surveys revealed that Nairobi in next 50 years; Iceland’s glacier could
2 ppm of elements such as cadmium
Africa consumes approximately 91,250 t disappear by 2200. That event alone
and mercury can be detrimental to
of charcoal annually, equating to the could raise sea levels by 20 ft.
human health.
destruction of over 900,000 t of
greenwood each year.
***** *****
Wastewater from factories is becoming a The United Nations Environment
problem for many Asian farmers. Even
***** Programme warned that more than 40
Costa Rica is considered one of the most Himalayan glacial lakes were
after treatment, it often contains a high
biologically diverse regions of the world. dangerously close to bursting,
level of heavy metals, or toxic
It is estimated that 5% of all insects threatening the lives of thousands of
compounds. From the factory, the
(approximately 500,000) is found in this people, because of the melting of ice
wastewater flows into rivers and
small tropical country, although it covers caused by global warming.
irrigation canals, and eventually into
only 0.01% of the earth’s landmass.
farmers’ fields as irrigation water .
***** ***** Metro Manila’s pollution level is fast
Air in Asia’s cities is among the dirtiest in swelling despite the passing of the
Fertilizers are a common cause of
the world, the Asian Development Bank Clean Air Act of 1999. The country’s
contamination of groundwater. A quarter
says. Smoke particles and dust -- a pollution deaths reported have reached
of water wells fro drinking in Malaysia
major cause of respiratory diseases in 8,000 from 6,000 just a year ago.
contains nitrates higher than the
these cities -- are generally twice the
acceptable level, while 9% contains high
world’s average.
level of phosphorous.

***** ***** The compiler is Librarian II of the ERDB.

Overfishing… from page 5 of water by various sectors have also Such would eventually result in economic
been observed. overfishing.
can be correlated with the corresponding
increase in the number of fishers per Socioeconomic factors could also affect References
kilometer of the coastline from 70 to 253 the density of fish resources in the
Manila Bay. Since there are more Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
in 1987 up to 1993. Associated with the 1995. Fisheries sector program -
increase of fishers is an increase in the municipal fishers than commercial
Resources and ecological assessment of
number of boats (municipal) per fishers, most municipal fishers the Manila Bay. Final report. BFAR-
kilometer of the coastline, estimated by concentrate along zone 4-20 km from the Department of Agriculture, Quezon City.
the number of boats reported divided by shore. Close competition for higher yield
an approximate length of the Manila Bay would result in overfishing and lead to National Statistics Office. 1980.
coastline (220 km). The number of boats the decline of fish resources.
National Statistics Office. 2001. Philippine
increased from 74 units/km to 1,980
Growth and recruitment of overfishing, Annual Report.
units/km (NSO Census on Fisheries,
1980, as cited by Tambuyog two forms of extreme fishing, can further
Tambuyog Development Center. 1990.
Development Center, 1990). In 1990 lead to ecosystem overfishing and Diliman, Quezon City.
alone, there were 90 units/km, indicating economic overfishing. Ecosystem
the intensity of fishing in the bay. overfishing occurs when multispecies
stock have been overfished. This is The author is Senior Science Research
evidenced by the change in species Specialist of the Technology Transfer
In addition, destructive (e.g., the use of
explosives) and illegal fishing, habitat composition and by decrease of average and Information Division, DENR-
destruction, pollution and conflicting use sizes of fish through time. Region III.

September - October 2000 CANOPY International 9

E cologists have done numerous
assessments and studies on
marine resources and habitats in
the Manila Bay, particularly mangroves,
fisheries, shellfisheries, coral reefs and
Wetlands of Manila Bay
face rapid depletion
seaweeds. However, very few studies
Dolores Castro and Olivia Lamparas
regarding wetlands: mudflats, sandflats,
swamps, beaches and rocky shores
have been published. These habitats
constitute vital components making up
the coastal ecosystem of the Manila Human activities can disrupt this cycle. vulnerable both to disturbances caused
Bay. That is, when plants are destroyed, by nature and those made by humans.
sands are removed and buildings are With its location, it has to contend with
constructed on dunes. These would the onslaught of waves. Pests and
The wetlands of the Manila Bay
Based on the resources and ecological cause the beach to erode unless action diseases also pose natural stresses on
assessment done on the Manila Bay, is taken to restore nature’s balance. wetlands. Conversion of wetlands into
wetlands cover about 4,600 ha (BFAR, fishponds, human settlements, salt beds,
1995). These wetlands include mudflats, The plants that bind the dunes are very wharves and docks disrupts ecological
sandflats, swamps, beaches and rocky important. They hold sands in place and balance. Similarly, the conversion of
shores. Fifty-three percent of the further trap those sands that have been swamps into brackish water ponds is a
mudflats are found in Bulacan, 29% in blown by winds. If plants are destroyed, principal cause for the loss of Philippine
Pampanga and 17% in Bataan. Total dry sands can be easily blown away. wetlands.
sandflat area is 1,500 ha and this Drifting sands cause problems as they
composite is distributed in Bataan bury land, block roads, cover camping Other factors contributory to the
(47%), Cavite (36%) and Metro Manila grounds and fill lakes and harbors. A degradation of the wetlands of the Manila
(16%). whole dune can eventually disappear. Bay include reclamation and continuous
wetland conversion, pollution and oil spill.
Beaches are found in Ternate, Cavite; in Swamps occur on tidal flats along coasts.
the southern part of Metro Manila; and in They are found finging the shores of the References
Cochinos Point, Mariveles, Bataan. archipelago, extending inland along the
streams with brackish water. However, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Beaches are great places for swimming, 1995. Fisheries sector program -
surfing, fishing, or just meeting friends. development of swamps into aquaculture
Resources and ecological assessment of
Yet many beaches are losing their ponds, salt beds, reclamation areas and the Manila Bay. Final report. BFAR-
golden sands to erosion. The sand is other agricultural uses has extensively Department of Agriculture, Quezon City.
loose and can be easily blown away by denuded these valuable resources.
winds, or moved by waves. It is often The first author is Science Research
moved towards and off the beach by the Disruption of wetland ecosystems
Disturbance of an ecosystem adversely Assistant and the second is Science
sea as part of the natural cycle of beach Research Aide of the Technology Transfer
building and erosion. affects the dynamics of the whole
ecology. A wetland ecosystem is and Information Division,
DENR-Region III.

Saving… from page 1 As for the Department of Environment Through these initiatives to save the
and Natural Resources (DENR), the Manila Bay, the future is promising for
in particular the poor and other Manila Bay Environmental Management the next generations to enjoy the benefits
marginalized groups in Filipino society Project (MBEMP) was established in that the present generation obtains from
who depend extensively on the natural 2000. Generally, expected output of the the Manila Bay. Individual and collective
resources of Manila Bay for sustenance, five-year plan of the MBEMP includes actions would keep the Manila Bay alive -
and the need to address these two strategic plans for the protection, and its wonder would never cease.
issues in an integrated fashion.” conservation and rehabilitation of the
Manila Bay and its watershed areas.

Phytoplankton… from page 3 seagrass/seaweed area; and deep area. diverse phytoplankton population in 1995
Results showed that in Station I (Forest/ (1.22), but Deep 2 had relatively the most
dinoflagellates was not done during mangrove area), Ternate River had the diverse phytoplankton in 1996 (1.36).
sampling (PRRP, 1999). most diverse phytoplankton population
(2.34 in 1995 and 1.04 in 1996). In In the case of paralytic shellfish
In November 1995 and April 1996 Station II (Coral reef/seagrass/seaweed poisoning brought about by red tide, or
sampling, diversity index of area), Calumpang had the highest harmful algal bloom as described by
phytoplankton was computed based on diversity index (1.42 in 1995) and 1.41 in experts, there was a pronounced
water quality analysis of three stations: 1996). In Station III (Deep area), increase in dinoglagellate
forest/mangrove area; coral reef/ however, Deep 1 showed the most

) page 11

10 CANOPY International September - October 2000

Seagrass beds… from page 2 Decline of seagrass beds would lead to urban and industrial effluents and
the loss of economically-important dumping of solid wastes into the sea.
photosynthesis. In addition, excessive species, loss of protection from strong • Maintaining of vegetated buffers
amount of dying algae would strip the waves, loss of habitats and nursery along the shoreline and around
water of oxygen making it anoxic, or grounds and reduction of detrital matters. disturbed sites to filter the runoff and
giving way to sediments. All this may promote infiltration of water into the
severely limit seagrass survival, or Management interventions ground.
gradually kill every seagrass species, or The harsh condition of seagrasses in the • Preventing erosion by controlling
leave only those species fit enough to Manila Bay calls for interventions that logging, mining and agricultural
survive. would protect the remaining seagrass practices.
beds. Management interventions
addressing the loss of seagrass and soft-
• Controlling of coastal construction
The destruction of fringing vegetation, and beach nourishment.
such as mangroves, allows more bottom habitats include the following:
• Transplanting of seagrasses.
sediments and pollutants to enter into
• Mapping and identification of However, selection of the transplant
the water. Such destructive human
site in regard to light, nutrient and
activity also removes significant sources seagrass beds to catalogue the
sediment type and stability is
of nutrients that help sustain seagrasses extent and location of the resource.
important while considering relative
and coral reefs. Blast fishing (i.e., use of • Zoning to prioritize use of space cost and benefits.
dynamite) gouges large holes on the between pristine seagrass meadows
sea bottom, killing plants and creating and those that are disturbed, altered,
• Promoting of outdoor recreation and
erosions that may affect more plants. tourism opportunities as alternative
or emergent.
Dragging boats, nets, anchors and other sources of income.
• Controlling of fishing methods to ban
gears can dislodge seagrasses as much bottom trawling, blast fishing and
as churning of shallow waters from small other ways of harvesting which tear
boats and jet skis can. In addition, The author is Project Development
up the bottom and cause turbidity. Officer of the Manila Bay Environmental
planting of mangroves on seagrass beds
• Reducing of pollution by enforcing Management Project, DENR-Region III.
is destructive to seagrasses, and,
prohibitions against discharge of
therefore inappropriate.

Phytoplankton… from page 10

Concluding note References
population in Bataan from northeast Analysis of phytoplankton population is
Azanza, R.V. and I.N. Miranda. 1999.
monsoon to trade winds to southwest an important tool in the proper
Phytoplankton composition and
monsoon (Azanza and Miranda, 1999). management of toxic red tide in the Pyrodinium bahamense toxic blooms in
The red tide in the Manila Bay consists country. The phytoplankton community Manila Bay, Philippines.
of billions of tiny dinoflagellates, usually was found dominated by diatoms in all
Pyrodinium, and maybe 60 million of sampling stations for three seasons in Marinez-Goss, M.L. 1999. Estimation of fish
these organisms can be found in 1| of three years (Azanza and Miranda, 1999). biomass in Laguna de Bay based on
There were 10 families of diatoms and 2 primary productivity - A special study of
water. They appear reddish on the
marine flagellates found in the Manila the National Statistical Coordination
ocean surface due to their cell pigments. Board.
These organisms produce toxics that Bay.
may result in the massive fish kill and Pasig River Rehabilitation Program. 1999.
shellfish poisoning. Dinoflagellates can Although no decline of phytoplankton Manila Bay monitoring status for 1996-99
be ingested by mussels, which, in turn, population was observed in the Manila and recommendation for continued
may become dangerous for human Bay, the effect of high-suspended solid monitoring.
consumption as toxins from nutrients and other pollutants can ruin
dinoflagellates accumulate in the the breathtaking beauty of the
mussels. phytoplankton community. The The author is Project Development
productivity of phytoplankton significantly Officer of the Manila Bay Environmental
The first algal bloom in the Manila Bay maintains the plant at the bottom of the Management Project, DENR-Region III.
was in 1988. Since then, the food chain in marine environment. Many
phenomenon occurs every year. In valuable marine organisms of higher
Cavite, dinoflagelates constitute a minor trophic level depend on these
population of phytoplankton community phytoplankton for food and survival. If A is a success in life,
in the bay during a year. In 1998, Ecological balance can be disrupted if then A equals x plus y plus z.
harmful algal bloom in Bataan and these minute marine plants would be
taken for granted and eventually lost. Work is x; y is play; and z is
Cavite started in April/May and lasted
until October (Azanza and Miranda, keeping your mouth shut..
Albert Einstein 1879-1955
in Observer 15 January 1950

September - October 2000 CANOPY International 11

EDITORIAL BOARD Pollution in the Manila Bay
Celso P. Diaz threatens shellfisheries
Executive Adviser
“kapis”, was also noted. The species
Janet Mas was used to be gathered and cultured
Bibiano P. Ranes
Executive Editor east of the Manila Bay. Results of

assessment showed that shellfish tissue
ussels (Perna viridis), locally
EDITORIAL STAFF had been highly contaminated by
known as “tahong”, and rock
coliform bacteria, heavy metals and
oyster (Crassostrea iredale),
Gloria R. Diokno pesticides.
locally known as “talaba”, are primary
Editor shellfish species found and cultured in
The decline of shellfish in the Manila
the Manila Bay. Other species are crabs
Carlo B. Castillo Bay could be attributed to:
and prawns which can especially be
Associate Editor overharvesting/overcollection; dumping
found along the coastal areas of the
in the bay of domestic and industrial
town of Orani, Bataan to the coastal
Liberato A. Bacod sewage, heavy metals, pesticides, oil
towns of Pampanga.
Colorist and grease; and destruction of shellfish
habitat through reclamation and
Shellfish farms which thrive well in
BUSINESS STAFF conversion for development. Red tide
mudflat areas can be found in the
poses another major threat. The spin-off
western side of the Manila Bay, off the
Flora B. Palicpic effect of red tide lowers the public
coast of Bataan, from Orion to Orani.
Circulation Manager demand for shellfish because of the fatal
They are also found in mudflat areas of
effects of paralytic shellfish poisoning
Pampanga, the northeastern side of the
Eduardo M. Tolentino from eating red-tide-infected shellfish.
bay, and off the coast of Bulacan and
Circulation Assistant Red tide has serious socioeconomic
Malabon, north to northeastern side of
impact on the Manila Bay.
the bay. About 6,000 ha of mudflat/
sandflat area of cultured farms can be
Canopy International is published bi-monthly by With all these threats, almost all
the Ecosystems Research and Development found from Bataan to Cavite.
economically-important species have
Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of
started to disappear and shellfish yield
Environment and Natural Resources, Republic of In the 1995 analysis of shellfish
the Philippines. continues to decline.
industries in the Manila Bay conducted
Canopy International seeks to promote the by BFAR, an unstable production of References
global communication and exchange of oyster was found from 1988 to 1992:
information on issues and developments 6,600 t in 1988; and 892 t in 1992;
affecting the equitable utilization of natural Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
resources and sustainable management of the (BFAR, 1995). An unstable production 1995, 1999. Fisheries sector program -
environment. of mussel was noted from 1982 to 1999: Resources and ecological assessment
3,105 t in 1982; 10,827 t in 1993; and of the Manila Bay. Final report. BFAR-
Canopy International accepts contributions for Department of Agriculture, Quezon City.
publication but reserves the right to edit such
5,143 t in 1999. The reduction of
contributions. Only unsolicited manuscripts shellfish species diversity was likewise
accompanied by self-stamped and self- observed, from 43 to 45 species, or less
addressed envelope will be returned.
Contributions must be accompanied with a brief
(BFAR, 1999). The author is Science Research
curriculum vitae of the author(s). Specialist I of the Technology Transfer
The absence of the windowpane oyster and Information Division, DENR-
No contents of this publication may be (Placuna placenta), locally known as
reproduced, in part or in whole, without prior Region III.
permission from the publisher, except for
purposes of review and citation, provided a copy
of such review or citation is sent to the publisher.

Views expressed herein are of the author(s) and

do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher
or editors.

Canopy International was entered as second-

class mail in College, Laguna, PHILIPPINES on
30 May 2003.

Whatever Nature has in store for

mankind, unpleasant as it may be,
men must accept, for ignorance is
never better than knowledge.
Laura Fermi
Atoms in the Family (1955)

12 CANOPY International September - October 2000