Press Release: Clergy, scientists oppose seabed mining in Cagayan

Press Release

Feb. 4, 2021

Clergy, scientists oppose seabed mining in Cagayan

Quezon City – Local clergy and scientists involved in marine conservation expressed opposition against the reported seabed mining project in Cagayan that will start operations this month.


In a statement signed on January 8, 2021, the Cagayan Advocates for Integrity of Creation (CAIC) called on Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu to re-consider decision to allow the offshore mining project, citing the potential decrease of fish-catch of the more than 37,000 registered fisherfolk in Cagayan Province.


CAIC also mentioned the negative effects the mining project might introduce to several endangered species in the area. “It is clear to us that the black sand is a God-given resource to protect the ecological integrity of the whole province. Removal of it will cause irreversible damages to the entire bio-network” according to the statement signed by at least nine priests and nuns based in Cagayan province.


JDVC, owner and operator of the offshore mining project has asserted that their operations will not disturb the environment and has been accepted by local residents.

In a separate position paper, 78 environmental organizations and science-experts detailed the documented impacts of offshore or seabed mining.

Diovanie De Jesus, Marine Scientist from Oceana said, “This project will potentially destroy the ecosystems in the adjacent Important Marine Mammal Area and nearby protected area including the 50 hectares of corals and seagrass beds that are important habitats for fishes and other aquatic organisms. The International Union for Conservation of Nature included the marine mammals like humpback whales found in this area in its 2019 Red List of Threatened Species and in the 2012 Red List Status of Marine Mammals of the Philippines.

The IUCN releases the Red List of Threatened Species that has become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jom Acebes countered the claim of JDVC on the impacts of offshore mining. She said that sediment clouds or plumes formed during collection and discharge will adversely affect coral reefs and other filter-feeding organisms in the water and those burrowing on the sediment. The position paper referenced several scientific publications and peer-reviewed journals as their sources.

Oceana raised alarm on the insufficient environmental impact assessment (EIA) and questioned the contents of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) because the people, particularly the communities who will bear the impact of the project were not consulted and heard.

The group pushed for science-based and sustainable use of our natural resources, adherence to the precautionary principle for the environment, compliance to laws and international commitment for sustainable development.

We call for the immediate investigation of this project considering that this impacts the protected seascapes, the key biodiversity areas and the already threatened species in the marine ecosystems,” said Oceana Vice President Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos.

National anti-mining group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) demanded the offshore mining project be suspended until all these scientific and social issues are adequately addressed. Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, said that this project was fast-tracked without proper transparency and disclosure, and used the pandemic context to conveniently circumvent the necessary requirements of securing social licenses.

We are sure that this project has not complied with current DENR policies on mandatory EITI compliance and we must remember that former Gina Lopez suspended several black-sand mining projects in Cagayan, precisely because of the many unknowns that it will bring to the ecological integrity of the Cagayan coastline”, Garganera said.

The 78 organizations who signed the position paper demanded a science-based and sustainable use of natural resources and reminded the DENR that projects like this seabed mining in Cagayan must adhere to the precautionary principle. #

For more details, please contact:

Diovanie De Jesus, Marine Scientist, Oceana, ddejesus@oceana.org, +639178047642

Dr. Jom Acebes, Founder & Principal Investigator, BALYENA.ORG, jacebes@balyena.org.ph, +639163600192

Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President, OCEANA, gramos@oceana.org

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, nc@alyansatigilmina.net, +639175498218

Notes:

The CAIC statement can be downloaded here – https://www.alyansatigilmina.net/single-post/cagayan-advocates-for-integrity-creation-caic-open-letter-against-cagayan-offshore-mining

The updated position paper signed by 78 organizations can be downloaded here - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fzUcCVJg1b2opoZq18UCzs_WBio5T8Q7/view?usp=sharing

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