The UP Visayas Oil Spill Response Program, under the leadership of Dr. Resurreccion B. Sadaba, organized a team of scientists, researchers, and field assistants to conduct a rapid assessment of impact areas affected by the MT Princess Empress oil spill in Semirara, Caluya, and Mindoro Oriental. The project, which will run for three months starting last June 15, is a collaborative effort between UPV, Mindoro State University (MSU), and selected government units from the provinces of Oriental Mindoro and Antique.
The rapid assessment is a coordinated response to the extensive damage the oil spill inflicted upon valuable fishing grounds, fishery resources, and surrounding coastal environments. The assessment will cover the current state of mangroves, seagrass beds, rocky shores, corals, seafood, and water and sediment quality and safety.
According to the project’s summary, the assessment will “Help determine the extent of the potential ecological and public health impacts resulting from the spill. The outcomes of this rapid post-spill assessment will serve as a mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of the initial countermeasures and cleanup operations and improve future response protocols. It will also provide baseline information for monitoring the medium and long-term effects of this oil spill event.”
This initiative intends to minimize the environmental and social impact of the oil spill, which happened on 28 February 2023. The tanker was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel and was on its way to Bataan when it encountered rough sea conditions.
Dr. Sadaba is the Project Leader of the Mangroves-Semirara cluster. Prof. Marie Frances J. Nievales is leading the Seagrasses-Semirara cluster, Prof. Encarnacion Emilia S. Yap for the Seafood and Environmental Quality cluster, and Dr. Karen Vallarta-Lane for the Rocky Shores cluster. Meanwhile, the Coral Reefs cluster is composed of divers Precious Nikola B. Gaurana, Jessa Cortes, Lovely Joy D. Heyres, and their research assistant Venus S. Guadalope.
The MSU contingents include Study Leaders Dr. Jaesma A. Asinas for the Mangroves-Mindoro cluster, Dr. Katherine P. Sanchez-Escalona for the Seagrass-Mindoro cluster, and Joan Narzoles Gasang for the Rocky Shores-Mindoro cluster. John Emmanuel Merhan is the Research Assistant for the Seafood and Environmental Quality-Mindoro cluster.
“The rapid assessment will provide the necessary information to develop and implement appropriate mitigation measures to minimize the long-term effects of the spill on the affected ecosystems and local communities. It is essential to promote sustainable practices and measures to prevent future oil spills and ensure the preservation of valuable natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations,” the project brief also states. (With sources from Dr. Resurreccion B. Sadaba)