A CEBU-based think tank focusing on environmental issues has warned of environmental hazards if the 235.80 hectare Seafront City reclamation in Consolacion, Cebu pushes through.
In a statement sent Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, FBS-Environment and Community Research and Development Services said the proposed reclamation project will do more harm than good for the environment.
“Should the reclamation project continue as it is, the damage to our marine biodiversity will be irreversible,” Dr. Filipina Sotto, the project leader of the think tank’s study, said. “The loss of our natural resources will also harm the poor the most, such as the fisherfolk who rely on the sea for their income and sustenance.”
The proposed Seafront City reclamation project is a consortium with a private firm, La Consolacion Seafront Development Inc. (LCSDC), and the municipal government of Consolacion. This mixed-use reclamation project is envisioned to become an international economic hub.
The group’s study showed that there are 75 species of corals that can be found in Consolacion. Seven mangrove species can also be found in the proposed reclamation site.
Fisherfolk from the neighboring towns, according to the group, still go to the proposed reclamation area for their livelihood, contrary to the local government unit’s (LGU) claims that there are no more people who fish in the area.
The study said 500 fisherfolk from Consolacion, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Liloan stand to lose their livelihood if the reclamation project pushes through.
“The destruction of corals will harm aquatic animals because they will lose habitat and source of food,” Sotto explained. “For people who live near the seas, corals and mangroves are important because they form barriers that weaken the impact of sea waves.”
“Without them, these people are more vulnerable to strong floods,” she added.
Quarrying—or the extraction of minerals from the ground for reclamation—will also worsen environmental issues in Consolacion, according to Sotto.
“Quarrying is required to get the gravel and sand needed to complete the reclamation project. However, in the long run, the foundation of the lands in the quarrying area will get weaker. This increases the risk of landslides occurring in Consolacion during the rainy season,” Sotto warned.
Other natural resources that could be destroyed by the reclamation project include 51 species of macro benthic invertebrates and seven species of mangroves that are nursery grounds supporting the fishery in Cansaga Bay.
The environmental expert also raised doubts about the land the Consolacion LGU and LCDSC want to reclaim for the project.
“The reclaimed lands will likely collapse since these are natural mudflat terrains, which do not have stable soil foundations,” Sotto said. “These are also prone to liquefaction, a phenomenon where soil loses strength and stiffness.”
“In other words, the LGU and LCDSC will likely lose the money they are investing in because Seafront City may crumble one day,” she explained.
Sotto also added that according to their study, a water sampling test revealed that the waters around the shipyards did not pose a threat to the marine ecosystem.
“In contrast, pursuing the reclamation project will kill our aquatic resources because gravel and sand will be dumped in the reclamation site,” the environmental expert said.
Instead of pursuing the Seafront City reclamation project, Sotto is urging the Consolacion LGU to plant more mangroves
“Mangroves protect communities from floods and storm surges. Given Consolacion is vulnerable to flooding in general, enhancing the presence of mangroves must be considered to protect the residents,” she said. (KOC WITH PR)