verdeisland

SUPPORT: STOP VERDE ISLAND MINING PROJECT!

Verde Island Passage is known as ‘The Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity’. One of the most beautiful nature hotspots in the Philippines and in the world, it is now being threatened to become a mining site– using cyanide and building a dam. The locals are strongly against this, however, the local government and DENR ( Dept. of Natural Resources ) of the said place see this project as ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘commercially advantageous’, and have been seriously considering the project. If you are a nature lover, then please, SHARE THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS AND SIGN THE PETITION LINKED BELOW.

STOP VERDE ISLAND PASSAGE MINING PROJECT – CHANGE.ORG

Thank you if you ever signed :D

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I looked into a bucket and saw at least 20 fish. They were juveniles, each one no bigger than two fingers put together. There were wrasses, a variety of clownfish—this is where the aquarium fish in Manila come from.

In case you don’t know, the Philippines rests at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the center of marine biodiversity in the whole world. The center of the center of marine biodiversity? Verde Island. Exactly where I was standing at that moment.

As I was looking around, two locals were putting oxygen from a gas tank into plastic bags with water, and then transferring the fish into those bags. We were surrounded by rows and rows of fish-filled plastic bags on the ground. I picked up some of these bags. It was bittersweet. It was the first time I ever saw nudibranchs and pufferfish up close. I could turn the plastic bags over, study their colors and patterns. Of course, a number of them were already dead.

I was there to dive with my friends. I was excited for the island’s rich marine life, but I never expected to see them in plastic bags.

Though sad, it was a vast improvement from cyanide and dynamite fishing. The locals had to make a living somehow. So they got orders from Manila for specific kinds and numbers of fish, then caught those orders. They thought it’d be sustainable that way. Locals sold each fish for one to fives pesos. Aquarium shops in Manila resold them for hundreds a piece.

My friends and I pushed through with our dive after meeting the locals. A group of 10 on a tiny bangka. I felt sick, and I knew it wasn’t just because of the strong waves that morning. For a while I wanted to vomit. Then the water calmed down. We jumped in. A wall of rock. A drop off. And then, corals. A colorful variety of fish. Sea snakes, even. The healthiest reef I’d ever seen in my life and it was held by rock formations shaped like a fish bowl.

P.S. The Mind Museum is holding an exhibit about Verde Island and the Coral Triangle until September. I don’t think many Filipinos know that the center of the center of marine biodiversity is right in our country. Let’s change that.