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Enhancing Guimaras’ coral reefs through coral gardens

September 26, 2006

The Philippine STAR 09/24/2006

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is set to establish coral gardens in five areas in Guimaras this year, BFAR Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento Jr. said in line with President Arroyo’s directive to make the oil spill-damaged province another tourist destination.

Based on the underwater assessment conducted by the composite team of BFAR biologists and scuba divers last month, potential sites were identified in the coastal waters of Panobolon, Inampulogan, Guiwanon, Unisan and in Yato Island.

“BFAR will install artificial reef modules composed of 7 feet x 10 inches x 8 inches cement bars where branching or quick growing corals and coral-like species could attach themselves,” Sarmiento said.

In this way, the fish productivity in the area will be improved as coral reefs serve as nursery and breeding grounds for various fish and shellfish, he added.

According to Sarmiento, a total of P10 million has been earmarked for the project which was already incorporated by the BFAR in its 2006 calamity fund budget.

The introduction of coral garden concept was piloted by BFAR at Puntod Reef in Tangalan, Aklan where the coral cover was found to be devastated by destructive fishing activities such as the use of hulbot-hulbot and dynamite fishing.

Today, the live coral cover in Tangalan has significantly recovered and improved from 12 percent in 2002 to around 45 percent in 2006. Aside from contributing significantly to improve the fish landed by local fisherfolk, the project area is now a tourist destination with increasing number of foreign and local divers frequenting the area.

Meanwhile, 10 multi-purpose boats have been donated by BFAR to hardest-hit municipalities of Guimaras to address the urgent need for their livelihood.

Likewise, 50 units of bottom-set gill nets, 50 units of squid jiggers have already been awarded to fishefolk engaged in near-shore fishing such as shellfish gatherers, oyster and seaweed farmers who were adversely affected by the MT Solar 1 oil spill through the local government units.

BFAR has also turned over some of eight tons of oil absorbent material composed of abaca rope and scrap nets donated by the commercial sector that were used in the construction of oil spill boom in the province.

As a member of the National Disaster Coordinating Committee for the Guimaras rehabilitation, BFAR is continuously extending assistance to the oil spill containment and clean-up, and ensuring seafood safety by monitoring landed marine products.

A module of an AR made by piling concrete bars. A total of fifty modules were installed in the pioneering 10-hectare coral garden project in Tangalan by BFAR.

A BFAR-trained fisherfolk assessing coral development in the AR module a year after its installation in Tangalan. (Press release)

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