More than 200 kilograms of trash composed mostly of cigarette butts, plastic food packaging and other single use plastics were collected recently by divers of the Department of Environment and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon along the island shores and under the waters of the 7,000-ha Masinloc Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape (MOBPLS) in Palauig town, environment officials here said.

Minerva Martinez, chief of the conservation and development division said the DENR divers, also dubbed as "SCUBAsureros", were able to collect such garbage 30 feet deep under the sea which came from the shoreline and made its way to the sea floor.

She said the coastal cleanup was part of this year celebration of the Month of the Ocean (MOO) with the theme "Free the sea from marine debris" which underscores the effect of solid waste on coastal and marine life.

“Our scubasureros' aim is not just to cleanup the ocean floor including the shoreline of Magalawa Island, but most importantly is to raise awareness among local communities, especially tourists, that our trash does find its way even into the deepest part of the oceans," she said.

Martinez appealed to local and foreign tourists who flocked to various islands and beaches of Zambales to dispose their trash properly and stick by "clean as you go" policy.

"Our solid waste, especially plastic, puts marine life at risk, as these can be ingested or can suffocate marine wildlife," she added.

Each year, the month of May is celebrated as the Month of the Ocean by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999 to protect and save our marine waters. ###