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Lingayen Gulf black sand mining proposal flagged for possible impact on tourism

A PROPOSED black sand mining project in the Lingayen Gulf is expected to negatively affect the area’s tourism industry, a marine scientist said.

Fernando P. Siringan, a professor at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, said during a virtual briefing organized by food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan Monday, said mining will cause the clarity of the water to deteriorate, likely discouraging tourism.

“Tourists want to see a clean beach and clear water… if a beach’s water is not clear, it will drive them away,” Mr. Siringan said.

Mr. Siringan said sand mining will cause the resuspension and dispersal of fine-grained material, thereby disturbing the habitat of marine organisms.

“The project site is covered in more than 10 meters of thick and muddy material, which will be first extracted, then sorted and dumped back into the ocean. The undesired materials will be carried onto the entire gulf, releasing harmful pollutants,” Mr. Siringan said.

He said mining may also affect fish production, which could lead to higher prices.

“The high volume of suspended material in Lingayen Gulf due to the mining project will also lessen the fish catch. These fish products are also bought by tourists who wish to eat fresh seafood,” Mr. Siringan said.

The mining project is the Iron Ore Pangasinan Offshore Magnetite Mining Project proposed by Iron Ore, Gold, and Vanadium Resources (Phils.), Inc. It covers an area of 9,252.45 hectares.

The communities on the shore of Lingayen Gulf, a major fishing area, include Dagupan City, Binmaley, Labrador Lingayen, and Sual.

Associations of fishermen such as the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas have expressed fears that the project will affect its members’ livelihood.

“This proposed offshore mining would certainly spell doom to the livelihood of thousands of small fishers who subsist in Lingayen Gulf. Not to mention its adverse impact to the livelihood of other coastal residents involved in inland fisheries and salt farms,” the group said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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