I am quite sure you have heard about the famous Tubbataha Reef, Apo Reef, Coron Island and El Nido.
“Without environmental sustainability, economic stability and social cohesion cannot be achieved” -P.Harding
But there is one marine destination in the Philippines you should really be hearing about.
Verde Passage, which is considered the center of world’s marine biodiversity.
What does this mean?
Having one of the strongest currents in the world coming from South China Sea, Verde Passage is rich in ocean nutrients which results to the area having highest concentration of marine species compared to any other region in the world.
(Rich marine life in Verde Island)
Additionally, it has been determined that it has the most number of species that are found nowhere else in the world. The amazing fact about it is, new species are still being found in Verde Passage.
It’s declared that not only Tubbataha Reef, Coron Island and Apo Reef are dependent upon the condition of this region, but on a larger scale, the entire coral triangle.
(How critical the Verde Island Passage is)
Experts see Verde Passage as one of the last bastion of marine life. If it falls, it will result to mass extinction of marine species. Falling fishing stocks would not only be experienced in the Philippines, but in other countries as well.
(Fish market. Picture by Dan Fernandez)
Sadly Verde Passage is heavily threatened to be destroyed by the bustling business activity within the area. It is a major shipping lane to Batangas Port. Additionally a major oil refinery can be found within the area.
Everyday oil and chemical carriers pass through the passage. Like a ticking time bomb a disaster can strike any time. It wouldn’t take long for an oil spill to engulf the small area of Verde Passage.
(Verde Island Passage overlapping shipping lanes to Batangas port)
This is the reason why you should travel to Batangas and its surrounding regions.
Kindly heed my call to action. Take the initiative and see for yourself why Verde Passage should be treated like a treasure.
Afterwards share to your amazing adventure to Verde Passage and raise awareness about the threats plaguing this region.
(A bunch of blue-green chromis find shelter in a acropora coral)
(Organ pipe sponge)
Remember Guimaras Oil Spill, La Union Oil Spill, and Tubbataha Reef being rammed by a US Navy Ship and a Chinese vessel?
It’s not a remote possibility that another environmental catastrophe will happen soon.
Raising awareness, especially internationally, would put pressure to our dearest government leaders to protect the Verde Passage. Laws have been legislated and approved in the past but most are just rhetoric. Concrete action has yet to be seen.
I am not pursuing the complete shutdown of shipping lanes in the Verde Passage. I even believe that development is necessary in Verde Passage’s preservation. But although development is a necessary and unstoppable force, it must be ensured that it does not lead to destruction.
Consider this thought. The Verde Passage region has been experiencing development for quite some time now, but no infrastructure has been set in place to effectively control a major oil and chemical spill, if it happens.
The coast guard doesn’t even have an able environmental disaster response team.
These facts are not only true for Verde Passage case but for the entire Philippines as a whole.
It’s quite appalling that the Philippines, a country rich in marine resources, invest so little in the preservation of its natural resources; obviously it is last in government’s list of priorities.
If nothing changes, years from now where would the Philippines derive its national income?
Environmental preservation should not be seen as a hindrance to development but a necessary tool to sustain it. Given that we reap the benefits of the environment, we are responsible in cultivating it so we can still continue to do so in the future.
Environmental preservation is not in any way a useless undertaking for vanity or beautification purposes, therefore obtaining the necessary equipment to adequately to respond to environmental disasters at the very least should be one of Philippines’ top priorities.
Overfishing is also a major problem that needs to be addressed in Verde Passage. Greedy fishing activities either seeking consumable or aquarium fishes continue to overexploit this area.
(Fishing nets found all over Verde Island Passage)
Given all these threats, a capable body which would look after the passage should be put in place. This body would be responsible in making sure that no outdated and poorly maintained shipping vessel would be allowed to pass the Verde Passage. Also this body would make sure overfishing is addressed.
Go to Batangas and spread the word but remember dive and travel responsibly (responsible tourism). We don’t want our travels doing more harm than good.
Irresponsible tourism is equally a large threat to Verde Passage as the business activity in the area.
(Development catching up with nature)
As Batangas and its surrounding regions become more industrialized, the possibility grows that this region would follow the same ill polluted fate of other developed cities in the world.
(Traces of man destorying nature)
Do not let this happen; make sure that the little Batagueno girl (pictured above) would see the same rich Verde Passage in the future.
(Nicco Lampa visited Batangas, Philippines on November 12, 2011 until November 13, 2011)