Expansion of the Coral Restoration Program on Camiguin Island.

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate climate change committee has linked with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to restore the country’s damaged marine ecosystems, primarily through a coral restoration program, whose end results are enhanced livelihood opportunities, and a sustained tourism promotion.

Initial focus of this project is Boracay, a world famous island beach resort in Panay, Senator Loren Legara, chairperson of the Senate climate change committee, said.

Selection_of_coral_growing on a_frame

Selection_of_coral_growing on a_frame

Legarda said she has sponsored the coral rehabilitation project in Boracay, and this would be undertaken by the Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative (SPC) known as Code Blue Boracay Reef Buds Project.

The project has been linked with the DOST’s Filipinnovation on Coral Restoration Program wherein nurseries inside specially designed incubators would be used to raise corals from coral fragments, she said.

After a certain period, these corals would be transferred to damaged reef areas.

Part of the project is constructing specially designed underwater frames that will aid their growth, she explained.

The lady senator said the DOST’s multi-year program would cover other areas in the country.

She said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would support the expansion of the project on Camiguin Island.

“Through this effort, we harness science not only to restore our damaged reefs but also to provide jobs, livelihood opportunities, and promote sustainable tourism,” she said.

Of the country’s 27,000 square kilometers of existing corals, only five percent is in excellent condition, she added.

Legarda recalled that in 2011, approximately 7,000 hectares of sea bed within the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea have been ravaged by poachers who harvested more than 21,000 pieces of black coral, and 161 endangered turtles, and killed other marine life.

Total amount of the poachers’ haul was placed at about P35 million.

“Coral reefs are home to thousands of marine species, and losing them will spell disaster for our ecosystems, not to mention the thousands of Filipinos who depend on them for food, and as sources of livelihood. We have been blessed to be at the very center of global marine diversity. It is imperative that we are not defeated by greed, ignorance, or apathy. We must do our part to save our coral reefs,” she said.

Legarda said her pro-environment efforts are to raise awareness of the coral restoration project, and to encourage more legislators, public officials, private institutions, coastal communities, and citizens to get involved in the initiative.

“As more people realize the benefits of restoring and conserving our coral reefs, we will have more allies in protecting them from the many threats that cause them irreparable damage. We need to eliminate blast fishing, coral poaching, and irresponsible tourism. We need careful and consistent techniques, which harness a multi-faceted approach, techniques which engage both the public and the private sector to create and sustain innovative solutions,” she explained.

By MARIO B. CASAYURAN July 2, 2012

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