SMI maps marine habitat in Sarangani and Malalag bays
General Santos City (6 February) -- As part of its extensive study on the natural environments within and surrounding the Tampakan project, SMI has completed the habitat mapping in Malalag and Sarangani bays.
From 19 to 21 January, the SMI Environment team, together with aquatic environment expert, Hydrobiology, mapped the coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves in the bays using underwater towed video, underwater still camera, GPS tracking, aerial imagery interpretations, and depth sounding.
The habitat maps will enable SMI to assess the extent of its future activities' potential impact on the ecosystem of these bays.
"Habitat mapping is vital for the project. Knowledge of the distribution of habitats will help establish sensible approaches to the conservation needs of each habitat and to facilitate better management of the environment through an understanding of how SMI's activities are to be undertaken in relation to the habitats," explained Phil Whittle, SMI Environmental Technical Consultant for water quality.
Phil added, "We need thorough knowledge of the environments within the project area to minimize the project's environmental footprint, and so, from March 2009 onwards, marine sampling will be done quarterly.
Aside from the habitat mapping, marine sampling was also conducted in Malalag and Sangani bays to establish baseline data on the quality of water in these bays.
These studies will not only support the technical requirements of the project. The data will also help the host governments and local industries in their environmental management plans and decisions. (PIA 12) [top]