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October 19, 2007

Group bares Pampanga Bay development plan

MASANTOL -- A development plan for the Pampanga Bay was revealed on Thursday by the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) in close coordination with the local governments of Minalin, Macabebe and this town, which is aimed to develop the area as an eco- tourism destination and marine life center.

The Pampanga Bay runs along the municipalities of Sasmuan, Macabebe and Masantol while both the Pampanga River and Guagua-Pasac River end at the Pampanga Bay.

Also, the group is urging for the protection of the Pampanga Bay's mangroves, saying they are a natural attraction for nature-lovers and serve as a sanctuary of marine life including crabs, shrimps, fish and birds.

Mangroves are also crucial to marine life for they serve as breeding ground for fish, shrimps, crabs and more. They are also a natural habitat for various birds and help protect our shorelines from heavy winds, erosion and strong tides.

"The Pampanga Bay mangroves will serve as our rallying point to promote the area as a tourist destination and eventually as a center for marine trade," the group said.

"But before we could even promote Pampanga Bay as an eco-tourism spot, it is crucial to first assess what must be done with the remaining mangroves and how to clean the Pampanga waters," they added.

The cleanup of solid wastes from the open sea and those dumped by local residents along the Pampanga Delta Protective Dike is the huge challenge.

ADCL's proposed development plan is divided into two phases -- phase 1 deals with cleaning and re-greening, mangrove protection and propagation and eco-tourism development while phase 2 deals with the marine produce center.

Pampanga fourth district Board Members Ricardo Yabut and Nelson Calara and Minalin Vice Mayor Edgardo Yambao expressed full support after they reminisced the time that mangroves and marine life were abundant in the area.

In the end, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lauded ADCL for its efforts in regaining the past glory of Pampanga.

DENR officials explained the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem, their cause of death, and pollution.

"Solid waste management is only one of the factors in killing the mangroves. The local government units (LGUs) have a bigger role in addressing the solid waste management problem," they said.

"Advocacy is very important. This would be the role of ADCL. If we can educate all stakeholders, we can help educate others," they added. (RCG)

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