Photo: Philippine Coast Guard
Marine experts from the UP Diliman College of Science Marine Science Institute (UPD-CS MSI), UP Visayas (UPV), and Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) came together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to work on countermeasures to address the effects of the recent oil spill off Naujan, Occidental Mindoro.
The oil has reportedly reached the shores of the coastal towns of Naujan, Pola, and Pinamalayan. With the direction of the wind and the waves, the oil might reach the southern tip of Mindoro in a matter of days. At risk is over 4,000 hectares of coral reef area in Mindoro alone—from Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, all the way to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The spill is from the oil tanker MT Princess Empress, which sank last February 28.
Meanwhile, the team is already considering possible contingencies to address the spread of the oil, made difficult by the prevailing strong winds and waves. The team also said that the extent of the spill and the measures to be used depend largely on the kind of oil that was contained in the ship, which the PCG is currently working towards identifying.
A team with representatives from the different agencies, including MSI, has been deployed onsite to assess and assist the situation on the ground. Other efforts being done to help understand the spill include hydrodynamic modeling to determine where the oil might end up given the wind and currents in the area.
For updates on these initiatives, please wait for the MSI’s bulletins to be posted at https://msi.upd.edu.ph/
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*Updated on March 12, 2023: This article originally stated that 24,000 has of coral reef area may be affected in Mindoro. It has since been updated and corrected to 4,000 has after looking at higher resolution data, details found in Bulletin #03.