Whale shark season: Anti-litter measures enforced
By Keren Anne Bernadas
AS whale sharks make a comeback in the tourist town of Donsol in Sorsogon, the municipal government has further tightened its watch on coastal areas to apprehend individuals who dump trash in rivers and the sea.
Jean Rose Cadag, the environment and natural resources officer of Donsol, mentioned that the local government has intensified the enforcement of an ordinance that authorizes the arrest of any person caught littering in public places, especially in rivers and the municipal bay.
According to barangay records, no one has been caught in the act of polluting rivers or the bay so far. For decades, Donsol has been known as a hotspot for whale sharks, hosting one of the largest gatherings of ‘butanding,’ the world’s largest fish, which feeds mainly on microscopic plankton.
A female guardian in Donsol waters collects litter from the seabed. PIA-5
In the past, the whale shark season in Donsol was linked with the occurrence of ‘planktonic blooms,’ as mentioned in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines’ Impact Report 2022.
Whale sharks are attracted to Donsol due to the abundant availability of food, the WWF-Philippines stated. Plankton blooms occur when Donsol's rivers discharge nutrients.
To maintain the health of Donsol Bay, it is essential to protect the town’s rivers, Cadag said. The local government also implements a measure that allows the revocation of the business license of establishments found with unsegregated trash.
“Monitoring and inspection are conducted to assess adherence to these regulations. Penalties for non-compliance serve as a deterrent, reinforcing the seriousness of adhering to proper waste management practices,” she added.
Cadag mentioned that they are also improving infrastructure and facilities for waste management to facilitate the proper disposal and recycling of garbage. Currently, there is one functional garbage truck in Donsol, and collection takes place on schedule per barangay.
In Barangay Lourdes, a remote area not accessible to garbage trucks, waste materials are transported using a motorcycle provided by WWF-Philippines. Sammy Avisado, the driver of the 'garbage motorbike,' recalled that in the past, rubbish in Lourdes was just piled up because their garbage truck could not reach their far-flung community.
“With the help of the motorcycle, we can now easily and quickly transport the garbage to the dump site,” he added.
Collaborations with local businesses, community organizations, and other stakeholders contribute to a comprehensive and collective approach to solid waste management, Cadag said.