Mayor Leonila P. Montero and Vice-Mayor Pedro Fuertes of this foremost tourist town have recognized the need to institute restoration and rehabilitation of the town coral reef ecosystems and enhance protection and management of reefs from destruction, fishing malpractices and pollution.Â
Some of the sixteen dive sites have been targeted for the planned restoration, tourism/coastal resource management officer Darwin Menorias said in an interview. Balicasag island has some interesting dive sites considered as one best in the world, are within what experts called a hotspot of rich marine biodiversity in the country, where frog fish and other rare species are abound.
Mayor Montero said that the Montero-Fuertes tandem means business in investing in coastal and marine protection and rehabilitation to ensure, not only for a better future and a better environment for all, but also for food security.
Menorias said that the Montero-Fuertes administration has come up with Reef Ball and Coral Restoration project, initially for coastal barangay Doljo. The objective is â€œto replenish the diminishing coral cover on Doljo reef and to improve fish density thru natural recruits,â€ he said. The launching will be on April 15-30, 2015.
The procedure includes deploying the reef balls â€œon a strategic locations, based on the Global Positioning System coordinates, that have been identified in the recent reef monitoring survey. The said survey validates the deterioration of the coral over on specific areas,â€ the plan indicates.
â€œTo meticulously pick up fragments of coral of opportunities and carefully laid it in the nursery using the filipinovation method as advocated by Dr. Filipina Sotto. The site has to be properly demarcated with conspicuous surface markers to regulate and manage both fishing and tourism related activities to facilitate sustainable growth of the new corals.â€
The plan is expected to produce â€œnew polyps that will be recruited, new colonies of corals will grow and proliferatesâ€ as a result of the â€œprotective void-spaceâ€ that will be provided by the reef ball structures.
â€œAS soon as the new corals will grow it is expected that species of fishes will be attracted to form new colonies and therefore will dramatically increase fish densities,â€ Menorias explained.
The move (plan of coral reef rehab) is apparently aimed at complementing with the income-generating activities, such as the environmental userâ€™s fee (EUF) carried out of the Montero-Fuertes administration. The strict imposition of such charges is to observe the carrying capacity of the sites, the mayor said.
No wonder that the islandâ€™s rich and diverse marine ecosystem has become a magnet for both national and internation marine studies.Â
A French-led marine expedition, dubbedÂ Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project that launched an intensive inventory in 2004,Â has discovered thousands of new species of crustaceans and mollusks in waters around the island.
â€œNumerous species were observed and photographed alive, many for the first time,â€ the scientists, led by Philippe Bouchet, of the Museum National dâ€™Histoire Naturelle in France, said in a statement.Â The embassy said that, with a total of 80 participants from the Philippines, other ASEAN countries, Europe and the United States, the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project was the most comprehensive survey of deep-sea invertebrates ever conducted anywhere in the tropics.â€
Recently, its rich marine biodiversity awed the International Conference of Fossil experts held here for the first time. The gathering of experts dubbed INA15 (International Nannoplankton Association Conference).
The conference, the 15thÂ ,held March 7-16, 2015, the first in the country. It is held every two years since 1985. â€œThe Nannoplankton Laboratory of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of the Unviersity of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City is the host after winning the bid over other groups from United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, the organizers said.
The INA Conference gathers scientists worldwide, who have interest in living or fossil calcareous nannoplankton. Calcareous nannoplankton are single-celled plant-like organisms (algal protists) living in the worldâ€™s oceans since the Triassic Period (more than 200 million years ago). Reseaches about these organisms are presented at the INA Conference by academic and industry scientists through oral and poster presentations.â€
INA held conference in Yamagata, Japan in 2010 and Reston, Virginia in 2013 is hoped for the countryâ€™s scientists â€œto engage in the worldâ€™s scientific advancements and the growing positive reputation of the Filipino scientist.
The waters off here serve as hosts to a total of 150 to 250 new crustacean species. Some 1,500 and 2,500 new mollusk species were discovered in the area based on the survey of Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project in 2004.
The area covers some 15,000 hectares that produce 1,200 species plus of decapod (10-footed) crustaceans and some 6,000 species of mollusks. The finds of the study are more than what the 300-million-hectare Mediterranean Sea has — â€œ340 species of decapods and 2,024 species of mollusks.â€Â (rvo)