Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Off-shore Mining Protest Gets National and Worldwide Coverage

The official statement released by Defend Our Sea Coalition regarding off-shore mining in the Visayan Strait was published in the Letters to the Editor section of Inquirer.Net today.

To view the statement, please click this link.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Protest Action Against Offshore Mining at Dept. of Energy-Cebu


Defend our Sea Coalition spearheads a lightning picket protest today, June 13 at 10:00 in the morning at the office of the Department of Energy, Metrobank building, Jones Avenue, Cebu City.

The protest is directed against the planned off-shore mining exploration in Cebu Strait this coming June 15, 2007 in the seas between Bohol and Cebu.

Bohol - Conservation Watch, FIDEC's counterpart in Bohol and one of the founding members of DEFEND OUR SEA COALITION spearheads a dialogue with local government units at the same time. They will also stage a prayer rally on June 14. A boat barricade will be also organized on June 15 to 18. NorAsia Energy Limited, the company which will be conducting the oil exploration will start their payao/gango (fish pens) clearing activity to give way to a seismic survey along the Cebu-Bohol Strait on June 15.

For more reference please read the official statement below.

Fisherfolk sectors in Cebu show their opposition to offshore mining.

Offshore mining will reduce fish supply in the affected areas.

A fisherfolk leader reads the official statement condemning the Dept. of Energy and the government as 'willing apologists, partners and lackeys of destructive foreign monopoly corporation.'

A copy of the official statement issued by Defend Our Sea Coalition.

FIDEC's executive director Vince Cinches interviewed by the local media. Photos by Yowee Gonzales

Joint Statement of DEFEND our Sea Coalition and FIDEC Inc. on Offshore Mining in Central Visayas



The planned off-shore mining exploration in Cebu-Bohol Strait is not alarming. it is revolting.

DOE and other government agencies tasked at protecting the environment have become willing apologists, partners and lackeys of destructive foreign monopoly corporation.

Being partners, they became blind to the overwhelming effects of exploration in Tañon Strait. Being lackeys they ignored credible scientific data that exploration has resulted in fish kills, reduction of fish catch, destruction of fishing gears, destruction of fish aggregation devices, and other health related problems.

This project like the Tañon strait exploration lacks transparency, corporations and government agencies involved is hiding important details and particularities of the project from the public.

The claims of these agencies regarding energy independence is nothing but an attempt to make the poison more palatable and seeks to mislead the Visayans. Under the service contract, corporations were given sole authority to identify, develop, and distribute whatever fossil fuel deposits in the area.

As with Tañon Strait, a large part of the Cebu-Bohol Strait is protected, being one of the global center of marine biodiversity. The Cebu-Bohol strait like Tañon is a migratory path and breeding ground for species from other countries.

The exploration will not only affect the local economy and tourism of Cebu and Bohol it will have a great repercussion on food security in the Visayas, Philippines, and the world.

As experienced, JAPEX failed to compensate the owners of payao and other fish aggregating devices destroyed during the exploration in Tañon and no amount of assurance can allay our fears regarding the projects.

In the course of the Tañon exploration, the corporations and government agencies involved in the project failed to identify and implement alternative livelihood for affected communities.

It is reckless for DOE to dole-out certificate of non-coverage to NorAsian without the consent of local government authorities and the affected communities. It is equally condemnable for DENR and EMB for consenting and its failure to act against the obvious destruction of protected areas.

With this we demand that the project should be stopped at all cost. We cannot afford to trade the irreparable damage to our marine sources for a few million of pesos which will benefit the few corrupt officials in the government.

We call on various government agencies in the area to reiterate their strong stand against the project. We also urge various environmental advocates, organizations to stand against the destruction of our marine resources.

Instead of pursuing destructive projects, we urge the government to channel their efforts in sustainably developing the lives of the marginalized fisherfolks and pursuing the development of clean and renewable energy sources. Pursuing the development of Renewable energy sources can save RP with $ 2.3 Billion annually.

Based on WWF-Philippines' 10-year PowerSwitch scenario, the country should bring down dependence fossil fuel to 28 percent by 2012 from the current 61 percent.


(032)256 1365
0905 2624123

Effects of Offshore Drilling

Overlooking Tañon Strait, a marine protected area under threat by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex). Photo by Yowee Gonzales

• A single offshore rig emits the same quantity of air pollution as 7000 cars driving 50 miles per day.
• Routine offshore drilling operations dump thousands of pounds of "drilling muds" (containing heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, arsenic, and lead) into the Gulf of Mexico. The routine pollution can cause severe disruption to marine environments and health and reproductive problems for marine mammals and fish species.

• A single exploratory well dumps approximately 25,000 tons of toxic metals into the ocean.

• A single production platform can have between 50-100 wells and can discharge 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluids, wastes, and metal cuttings into the ocean. *The Gulf of Mexico has a roughly 3000 square mile "Dead Zone" that is growing. Offshore drilling pollution, by smothering benthic (shallow water) communities, contributes to oxygen depletion and adds to the Dead Zone.

• Offshore drilling releases "toxic brines" that are pockets of water that are trapped in the geologic pockets where gas and oil occur. This toxic brine contains NORMS (naturally occurring radioactive materials), cadmium, lead, benzene, etc. The petroleum industry admits that up to 1.5 million barrels of toxic brine are discharged into the Gulf every day.

• In 1982 a 9.6 million gallon spill occurred from a storage tank of coastal Panama. This caused massive damage to seagrass beds, corals, mangroves, and coastal ecosystems much like those occurring Florida. Much of the damage from that spill continued for years, and the lasting impacts are still seen today.

Effects of Seismic Survey to Marine Life, People and the Fisherfolk Sector

The Visayan Sea is home to diverse marine life which will be greatly affected by offshore mining. Photos by Yowee Gonzales

Effects of seismic survey to marine life: fish, invertebrates, marine turtles, marine mammals - whales, whale sharks, coral reefs , and others.

A seismic survey is conducted in a particular area to quantify the amount of deposited natural gases and minerals, like oil or petroleum.

1. Seismic blasting can damage the hearing structures, (McCauley et al. 2003)
2. Cause body tissues to hemorrhage (hastings, 1995)
3. And damage reproductive organs in marine organisms (Jensen and Alberdice, 1989)
4. Seismic blasting can cause behavioral modifications and reduce or eliminate available habitat for breeding / spawning, foraging and migration (Richardson et al. 1986; Harris et al. 2001; McCauley et al. 2000; McCauley et al. 1998)
5. Seismic noises can alter fish distribution by tens of kilometers (Slotte et al. 2004; Engas et al. 1996)
6. Seismic blasting can elicit physiological stress and neural-immune responses in Marine organisms (Santulli et al. 1998; Romano et al. 2004)
7. Seismic blasting damages planktonic eggs and larvae found in the immediate vicinity of airguns (Dalen and Knutsen, 1985)
8. Seismic blasting can reduce catches in commercial fisheries (Slotte et al. 2004; Soldal and Loekkeborg, 1993; Engas et al. 1996; Skalski et al. 1992
9. The impact of the sound underwater tends to bursts air bladders (i.e. swim bladders for fish, lungs for marine mammals and the animals may have well sunk to the ocean floor from ruptured lungs. Andrea Leonor Bautista,manager, Cetacean Research and Conservation Project - WWF. ( Thu, Sep 08, 2005)

Air pollution: Offshore natural gas drilling causes a significant amount of air pollution. Each offshore oil platform generates approximately 214,000 pounds of air pollutants each year (National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration).

An average exploration well for oil or natural gasgenerates some 50 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 13 tons of carbon monoxide, 6 tons of sulfurdioxide, and 5 tons of volatile organic hydrocarbons7. These pollutants are the precursors to smog, acid
rain and contribute to global warming.

Water pollution: Oil and Gas drilling operations generate huge amounts of waste that is discarded intowater. According to the National Academy of Sciences, a single well produces between 1500 and 2000 TONS of waste material.

Debris includes drill cuttings, which is rock ground into pieces by the bit;and drilling mud brought up during the drilling process. This mud contains toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Other pollutants, such as benzene, arsenic, zinc and other known carcinogens and radioactive materials are routinely released in “produced water,” which emerges when water is brought up from a well along with the oil or gas.

Oil Spills: Oil is extremely toxic to a wide variety of marine species, and current cleanup methods are incapable of removing more then a small fraction of the oil spilled in marine waters. Offshore drilling platforms and pipelines spilled 1.8 million gallons of oil in U.S. waters from 1990-1999 in 224 reported accidents – that’s an average of almost 500 gallons a day.

FIDEC Executive Director Vince Cinches in dialogue with local fisherfolk leaders in Tajao, Piamungajan, one of the affected areas along Tañon Strait. Photo by Yowee Gonzales

Unpaid gango and payao (fish pens) during the Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) oil exploration: