Siltation affects seaweed farmers in Surigao del Sur
Photos above shows small-scale miners manually extracting gold at the river bank which drains its waters to the bay.
Cropping season for seaweeds in Surigao del Sur was cut short in the first quarter due to soil siltation caused by illegal small-scale mining activities in the coastal barangays of Barobo and Lianga. These small-scale mining activities employ soil flushing wherein miners use water pumps to flush gold from the soil resulting in siltation. Soil sediments are then carried by waste water to the coastal areas causing growth stagnation and eventual decay of seaweed plants. In effect, seaweeds production in the area declined.
Seaweed farmers in Surigao del Sur specifically those in Liatimco in the Municipality of Lianga and in some barangays of Barobo were greatly affected. Based on the assessment made by PDAP and the local government unit, estimated damage reached Php679,000 affecting 78 seaweed farmers from six (6) of the PDAP PO partners. Because of this, farmers stopped planting seaweeds and instead tried other means of livelihood like fish peddling and gold panning as well as to apply as skilled workers.
In response, the PDAP Seaweed Project Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted a resolution/position paper to the local government units (LGUs) of Lianga and Barobo. It urges the LGUs to immediately stop flushing along the coastal areas or areas that channel waste to the bay and the immediate relocation of the small scale mining operations to areas where waste water could no longer affect Lianga Bay. The same resolution/position paper was submitted to NEDA on May 22, 2013 and was subsequently endorsed to the Regional Development Council Economic Development Committee (RDC-EDC).
The RDC-EDC technical working group met last June 4, 2013 at the NEDA Conference Hall in Butuan City to discuss and address the issue. The group came up with recommendations which were submitted for consideration in the RDC-EDC Full Council Meeting held last June 20, 2013 at the Provincial Governor’s Office, Provincial Capitol, Tandag City. In the full council meeting, an RDC-EDC resolution was passed enjoining all LGUs and mining companies to adopt filtering technology (i.e. bio-logs to address heavy siltation of rivers and creeks brought about by mining activities). Also, Provincial Governor Johnny Pimentel informed the committee that a cease and desist order to stop all illegal mining activities has been issued. PO representatives were tasked to monitor its enforcement and provide feedback to the office of the Mayor of Barobo.