What’s causing Manila Bay’s ‘turquoise’ waters? Pollution, says fisherfolk group, Coast Guard

A day ago

THIS WEEK, several videos and photos trended on social media showing a suddenly very bluish-green Manila Bay.

Some netizens even described the color of the water to Boracay.

While it is tempting to chalk up the color change in the water to reduced pollution thanks to the enforced community quarantine, the fisheries expert of an activist fisherfolk group disagrees.

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“The color of the water can be likened to a swimming pool that underwent chlorination,” said Jerwin Baure of PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas, in a statement that was quoted in online news site Manila Today.

Baure, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries from the University of the Philippines-Visayas, added: “[T]hus, we can’t set aside a possibility that some establishment carried out tank cleaning and outrightly discharged the toxic cleaning chemicals into Manila Bay.”

Baure noted that the rehabilitation needed for Manila Bay to take on a naturally clean color would take years, rather than the mere days of the lockdown.

In an interview with 24 Oras on GMA 7, the Philippine Coast Guard also reached the same conclusion.

“Base dun sa mga previous reports pa ng Marine Environmental Protection Command, nag-di-discolor 'yung tubig, nagkakaroon ng discoloration minsan, pagka merong pollutants," said Commodore Arman Balilo of the Philippine Coast Guard to GMA News reporter Chino Gaston.

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GMA 7 also reports that the waters along Manila Bay are inconsistent. Water along Roxas Boulevard showed “a blackish and muddy color”, while the part of the bay behind the Cultural Center of the Philippines alternated “between a bluish tint and moss green.”

PAMALAKAYA said in a statement released today: "The [DENR] should get to the bottom of this. In case, on whatever establishment or entity responsible for a possible pollution discharge should be held accountable over violation of the government’s very own rehabilitation drive of Manila Bay."

Nevertheless, the enhanced community quarantine has seen the air quality improve within the metro. Viral photos showed the Sierra Madre mountain range and night stars visible in Manila.

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources confirmed this, saying in a statement released on March 25: “On March 22, 2020, the 24-hour average level for PM10 [particulate matter that’s 10 micrometers in diameter] in Las Piñas and Marikina went down to 31.67 and 27.21 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) from a high 57.81 and 31.28 ug/Ncm, respectively, on March 9, 2020.”

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The government agency added: “The acceptable threshold standard level of PM 10 is 60 ug/Ncm.”

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