MAC: Mines and Communities

Esperanza On Its Maiden Voyage

Published by MAC on 2006-08-15

A SHIP of the international environmental group Greenpeace arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday to highlight the organization's campaigns to save the country's marine ecosystem, particularly polluted Manila Bay and the seas of the Bicol region.

The MY Esperanza, on its maiden voyage to the country, will also highlight a successful community-managed marine reserve on Apo Island in Negros Oriental and "promote it as a model for marine reserves worldwide," a Greenpeace statement said.

During the ship's stay, Greenpeace will campaign against plastics pollution in Manila Bay and draw attention to the damage allegedly being caused by Australian mining firm Lafayette to the marine ecosystem of the Bicol region, the statement added.

Greenpeace is protesting what it says is the imminent resumption of the mining firm's operations on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay province. Lafayette's operations were suspended late last year after toxic mining spills that caused fish kills in surrounding seas.

"The oceans give our planet life but in return we are emptying them of fish, heating them with climate change, and filling them with toxics pollution," said Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Director.

"In the Philippines, we find some of our important marine ecosystems suffocating from pollution from industries, sewage, and trash," he added. "Millions of Filipinos depend on these marine resources for survival, yet we are destroying them at an alarming rate."

And while noting that the government "acknowledges habitat degradation, pollution, and destructive fishing as among the most pressing threats facing the country's marine ecosystems," Hernandez said its "clear bias towards exploitation, as shown by its all-out support for destructive mining operations which impact on marine life, proves that the government itself has become part of the problem."

The Esperanza is on a global "Defending Our Oceans" expedition that Greenpeace says "started from an action packed face-off with Japanese whalers in the Southern Oceans, to chasing pirate fishers in West Africa."

The expedition aims for "the establishment of a global network of marine reserves, where 40 percent of the world's oceans are protected from exploitation," Greenpeace said.

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