GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 or Soccsksargen on Thursday called for the strict enforcement of the total ban on single-use plastic and other related items in beaches within the critical Sarangani Bay.
Nilo Tamoria, DENR-12 regional executive director, specifically urged local government units and communities to properly implement the measure to help protect the bay and its marine resources from the adverse effects of plastic pollution.
He issued the call as Sarangani province formally opened the three-day 12th Sarangani Bay Festival or SarBay in the white-sand beaches of Barangay Gumasa in Glan town.
More than 100,000 tourists are expected to join the festivity, dubbed “the biggest summer beach party in Mindanao.”
Tamoria said resort owners, tourists, and beachgoers should properly observe eco-friendly measures, especially the ban on single-use plastic and styrofoam, the use of disposable utensils and littering of candy wrappers and other similar trash.
“The number of people participating in the said fest may generate huge volumes of wastes if eco-friendly measures are not observed,” he said in a statement.
If such activities are not properly managed, the official said it will just put to waste the conservation efforts for Sarangani Bay being undertaken by the agency, LGUs, private sector, and other stakeholders.
“Manage your garbage since wastes, particularly, plastic can be devastating for marine biodiversity,” Tamoria said.
Sarangani Bay, a declared protected seascape, is home to various important marine wildlife species like Olive Ridley turtles, “dugongs” or sea cows and “butandings” or whale sharks.
Environmental workers have documented these past months a number of cases of stranding and deaths of these species in the area, with some due to ingestion of plastic wastes.
“Plastics are non-biodegradable materials, which do not decay. Once discarded, plastics are likely to end up in oceans and these will be eaten by marine species, clogging their stomach and causing their death,” Tamoria explained.
The Protected Area Management Board of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, through Resolution 2018-026, had set policies, conditions, and restrictions in the conduct of the SarBay fest, requiring organizers to intensify the monitoring and compliance for a ”zero waste beach event.”
Joy Oloquin, protected area superintendent, said the organizers should ensure that there will be no garbage or solid waste left uncollected at the end of the festivity. (PNA)