Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte – The Biodiversity Partnerships Project (BPP) Information Education Communication (IEC) team Mr. Ben-Hur Viloria, the Project Officer and Mr. Procopio Resabal, the IEC Specialist recently paid visit to Lake Mainit Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) to conduct site consultation for the developing communication strategies last December 20 and 21, 2012. On the meeting transpired at the SB Session Hall. Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, Mr. Resabal, while presenting the rationale of their visit which is to develop communication strategies for the biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscape, he also revealed the current issues that they got during the actual survey and interview with the Marginal Farmers Association (MAFIA) in San Roque, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.
These major issues include the dwindling of fish catch, fish deformity and contamination, water pollution due to improper waste management and presence of rice fields along the lake, and catching of wild birds. The team elaborated that some people they interviewed said that they experience low caught of fish and some fish they caught have skin disorder while others have deformed body, which they assumed to have been contaminated with chemicals. Some people they interviewed with also assumed that water pollution with chemicals from mining might be the cause of fish skin disorder and its body deformation. The team also revealed that the Magpayang river, which is one of the major tributary rivers to Lake Mainit from barangays of Tubod and also from Mainit areas has very dark water. Some people they interviewed with said that the Greenstone Mining Corporation who operated in Barangay Siana, Mainit, Surigao del Norte may contribute the water pollution by releasing their plant processed waste during the midnight. The mining plant tillage might overflowing to rivers and to lake. They said that although these were heresy, the information must be verified.
Mr. Arturo Cruje, the PPDC of Surigao del Norte and OIC LMDA Director said that the report must be verified with the authorized agencies like the MGB and the EMB. He said that there was a report in previous year related to the mining operations in Mainit that allegedly affect the overflowing of water to Mainit due to the release of water from Greenstone. Ms. Ma. Rebeca Bagnol, the Provincial Agriculture representative said the BFAR will be conducting water quality assessment with the EcoFish project which includes the Lake Mainit area as one of the project site.
The team also presented picture of the waste disposal near the lakeshore in Barangay San Roque with the presence of birds landing on it. They said that it would actually be reached by the lake during the flooding. They also observed that there is no control of easement within the lake. Ms. Maria Cecilia Sabanpan, the Municipal Agriculture Officer said that the particular area in San Roque was actually the dumping site of the barangay, however they already advice the barangay officials to transfer because aside from it is near the lake; it is also considered the danger zone. She said that they will reprimand the barangay officials soon. Mr. Cruje said that the easement within the lake was not controlled by the LGUs. Although there was already ordinance and law that regulate that, some LGUs have no uniform implementation of the policy. He also observed that most people living in the easement areas were migrants from other provinces.
Catching of wild birds is also identified issue by the team. Mr. Roberto Calubag, Jr., the LMDA Action Officer of Kitcharao said that there were some people in Kitcharao catch “karab” for food. According to Mr. Calubag, these people who group in five or six used “sikpaw”, a devise with fine nets to catch the birds. Other farmers-fishermen used fine nets to catch wild ducks in lake.
Rice fields along the lake was also identified by the team to have some effect to lake pollution. They assumed that most of the farmers applied inorganic fertilizers and pesticides that brought chemicals to lake. Ms. Bagnol, said that the province of Surigao del Norte is already passing an Organic agriculture ordinance. She said that the provincial agriculture in accordance with the DA and the Organic Agriculture Act has regular three-month program on IPM and organic farming. She suggested that the biodiversity mainstreaming advocacy will be incorporated to DA regular program as an integrated IEC approach to farmers. She further suggests that the BPP should submit relevant document and information to the DA to give clearance and information too to the focal person for biodiversity advocacy incorporation to DA programs.
Ms. Josephine Araojo, the BPP Focal Person and CMMD Chief of DENR-PAWZCMS Caraga suggested having multi media approach to IEC unto schools and communities including the far-flung barangay so that all become aware on biodiversity conservation. She suggested a visual presentation illustrating the issues in Lake Mainit. Mr. Barillo said that one of the effective IEC materials is on the form of laymanized flyers and tarpaulins. He suggested to write to all partner agencies and LGUs of LMDA to incorporate lake biodiversity conservation in its plans, programs, activities and IEC especially on the through tarpaulin or billboard. Mr. Cruje said that the province of Surigao del Norte is enhancing its IEC via tarpaulin and billboard. He requested the DENR Caraga to provide the design in billboard size that will be posted soon in all strategic areas in Lake Mainit. He said that the province of Surigao del Norte is very willing to fund for the billboard IEC materials. He also said that there are private and non-government organizations he knew that are willing also to fund for the IEC materials like billboards as part of their social responsibility to the environmental conservation. ■