By: Estrella Z. Gallardo
Over 90% of the Philippine Coral reefs will be threatened by 2030, the World Resources predicts.
For several decades destructive fishing (dynamite fishing, trawl fishing and others), coastal development, (reclamation) agriculture, aquaculture, and lack of treatment for industrial water (pollution) are the culprits of the massive degradation of these resources.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research Development of (PCAARRD) the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) funded the Filipinnovation on coral to restore these damaged gems of the marine ecosystems, Reef Restoration Program in 2012.
The program using asexually reproduced corals seeks to roll out coral transplantation technology to improve productivity of coral resources for sustainable fisheries.
Corals asexual reproduction technology for reef restoration involves the collection of dislodged live coral fragments or “corals of opportunity” (COPs).
The COPs are attached to coral nursery units (CNUs) for quick recovery and regeneration to increase survival rates upon transplantation in degraded coral reef sites. Each CNU is designed to hold 500 COPs per batch and can be used several times a year.
The CNU design and the coral transplantation technique uses marine epoxy clay, nails, and cable tie.
Restored sites were in Bohol, Pangasinan, Sarangani, Bataan, Zambales, Palawan, Camiguin, Zamboanga del Norte, and Ilocos Norte. These areas were identified based on their suitability for restoration; availability of sufficient amount of coral fragments for transplanting; and their location within the marine protected area.
The program has established a total of 538 CNUs and transplanted 487,158 coral fragments. These activities contribute directly to the protection of coastal communities by providing natural barriers; improving our marine ecosystem services; developing fishery resources; and enhancing underwater tourism industry.
When the Filipinnovation program was completed in 2013, the National Coral Reef Rehabilitation Roll-Out Program continued the work using the same asexual reproduction technology in nine sites across the country: Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; Alaminos, Pangasinan; Bagac, Bataan; Subic Bay, Zambales; Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Anda, Bohol; Camiguin, Zamboanga City; and Kiamba, Sarangani. Overall, the two programs are now in 20 locations across 11 regions (1, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and ARMM).
Developed by the University of the Philippines–Marine Science Institute, the direct coral transplantation technique was implemented with the local communities to restore an area in Bolinao, Pangasinan. The technique has been pilot-tested in major tourism and diving sites including Batangas, Bohol, and Boracay.
APEC-PPSTI-5 Coral Rehabilitation in Boracay
In Boracay, at the culmination of the 5th Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Science and Technology Innovation (PPSTI-5) was highlighted with the tying of coral fragments of COPs to the CNUs.
With this the municipal government of Boracay, Malay in the Province of Aklan declared a part of its municipal waters as the APEC-PPSTI coral garden.
The team from DOST, Sangkalikasan, and Philippine Coast Guard, after a month observed that the fragments were fully settled and erected through their photo and video documentation of the APEC-PPSTI coral garden.
Over time, the rehabilitated reefs will be re-inhabited by fish aquatic life. Once this happens, productivity and sustainability of municipal fisheries will improve and the beauty and value of the area will be enhanced, a plus factor in the underwater tourism industry.
DOST-PCAARRD also funded a restoration project of the Filipinnovation Program of the Bakud Reef in Kiamba, Sarangani.
With the Mindanao State University-General Santos City in collaboration with the Sarangani Provincial Government, the project is expected to transplant 30,000 coral fragments to restore damage reef area; set-up and deploy 10 CNUs; identify, document; and establish a stream of dive sites; and develop a pool of human resources for coral restoration and eco-tourism.
Also part of the Filipinnovation program is the coral reef restoration project at the Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan.
Quezon Island was identified as the donor/collection site; Clave Island for setting up of the CNUs, and Romulo Island as the transplantation site.
Meanwhile, Bagac, Bataan, and Subic, Zambales were also named as beneficiaries of the coral transplantation technology. Bataan Peninsula State University and Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative served as implementing and collaborating agency, respectively.
DOST-PCAARRD showcased corals for transplantation including other agri-aqua R&D outputs on March 2–4, 2016 during the SIPAG FIESTA at its headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.
SIPAG, a technology transfer strategy, embodies the Council’s commitment to DOST’s Outcome One in a bid to ensure that the fruits of R&D activities for the agri-aqua sectors will be a blessing for every Juan.(PSciJourn MegaManila).