SBMA sets coastal cleanup program Sept. 13-17

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A week-long program comprising of onshore, offshore and underwater cleanup, as well as a lecture series on waste management, has been set by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for next week to drum up support for coastal environment protection in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the coastal cleanup activities were approved on condition that they be undertaken with strict observance of health and safety protocols.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only impacted the health of people and the health of the economy. It has also adversely affected the health of the environment because of increased use of disposable masks and face shields that are sometimes improperly disposed of, thus ending up in sewers, rivers and the sea,” Eisma pointed out. 

“There is an urgent need to reverse this trend, to remove trash in our waters, and help Mother Nature to also heal itself,” she added.

The various environmental activities lined up for next week are organized under a mini-festival called “Biay Dagat”, which comes from the native Ayta Ambala term meaning “blessing of the sea.”

And because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, SBMA Ecology Center manager Amethya dela Llana stressed that the festival, which the SBMA launched in 2019 but cancelled last year, will be held differently this year in adaptation to the “new normal.”

“Aside from strict compliance with IATF guidelines on health and safety during the events, a lot of activities will be held online. We have online pre-registration for participants, a virtual opening program, an online lecture series, and a virtual awarding ceremony,” Dela Llana explained.

The virtual opening will kick off “Biay Dagat” on Monday, Sept. 13. This will be followed by an online waste management lecture series on Sept. 14 to 16 to educate Subic stakeholders on the importance of oceans, particularly Subic Bay, and the impact of coastal clean-ups to sustainability.

The daily lecture will be at 10 to 11 a.m. and will be open to pre-registered participants, as well as any interested party within or outside the Subic Freeport. The topics include “Man and Ocean: Importance of Taking Care of Our Seas and Ocean” on Sept. 14; “SBMA Policies in Protecting Marine Areas” on Spt. 15; and “Waste Away: Proper Waste Management, Segregation, and Disposal” on Sept. 16.

The main event of “Biay Dagat” will take place on Sept. 17 and will be a three-pronged cleanup of Subic Bay that will happen onshore, offshore and underwater. But even this will be done differently this time.

“We targeted only 50% of the 2019 Biay Dagat attendees, or only around 200 participants this year. In 2019, there were 418 participants from 45 Subic Freeport locators,” Dela Llana said.

She said the pre-registered participants will be assigned into teams, for a total of 15 teams with a maximum of 10 persons in a team, including 2 SBMA guides. The onshore teams will be deployed along Waterfront Beach, San Bernardino Road, Triboa Bay Boardwalk, Tago Beach, and Nabasan Beach.

Meanwhile, the offshore teams called “SCOOPsurero” will be dispersed to river deltas, while underwater teams called “SCUBAsurero” will dive on the bay to take out trash.

Dela Llana also said that the local cycling community will also participate through the “Padyak para sa Dagat” program and will be assigned to the farthermost areas of the cleanup.

The trash collected by the various teams will be segregated and recorded to further study the extent of pollution along the coast and on the bay. 

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