Foreign objects were found in the digestive system of the juvenile Sperm Whale.
Photo: Dean Ortiz

Philippines: Plastics kill marine life, BFAR warns
By Juliet C. Revita, 3rd January 2017;

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Davao has again reminded the public to refrain from throwing their waste in the water as it causes serious risks on marine mammals and aquatic ecosystem.

BFAR-Davao Regional Director Fatma Idris warned the people residing in coastal areas to dispose their garbage properly and observe solid waste management to avoid causing harm on marine species.

Just before the holidays, a 38-foot juvenile Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) beached and died at the Island Garden City of Samal. Its innards showed plastic garbage, which could’ve caused its death as it could not digest nor excrete such substances.

In the necropsy report, Idris said found inside the Whale’s stomach were cellophane bags, fish nets and hooks, a piece of coconut lumber with nail, pieces of ropes, cut pieces of steel wires, and many other plastic debris.

“That causes distress or discomfort doon sa (to the) Whale hanggang sa siya ay napadpad doon po sa coastline ng Babak at doon siya namatay (until it reached the coastline of Babak and died there),” Idris said.

The BFAR encourages mangrove planting that would help in filtering the waste in the sea and prevent the waste from going through the sea that might put the other marine resource at risk.

The bureau also discourages community from throwing their waste in the water as it can be absorb by the marine mammals.

“At the same time ’yong paglilinis ng mga community. We should be responsible enough from throwing plastics or any form sa dagat,” Idris said.

Idris added under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, littering is an offense.

The violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000. They would also be asked to render community service and be required to pay a fine or both.

She also emphasized that it’s the Department of Interior Local Government who is the lead agency in implementing this while BFAR, Philippine Coast Guard and maritime groups are only the partner agencies.

The body of the Whale was already buried and will be excavated after a year to extract its bones, which will be displayed at Island Garden of City of Samal (Igacos) museum.

It’s not just marine mammals that can die from plastic garbage. In several occasions, necropsied marine Turtles are found with their digestive system filled with plastics.

Source: Sun.Star

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