The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced that the first large-scale coral restoration project in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) Region has already started.
The DOST-Mimaropa said the coral transplantation technology was deployed off the coast of Buenavista and Torrijos, Marinduque as part of the province-wide coral restoration project. Joining the DOST in implementing the project were the provincial government of Marinduque, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units (LGUs), and local fishermen groups.
“This is the first large-scale restoration effort in the MIMAROPA region that seeks to reverse reef degradation and improve the productivity of marine resources,” the DOST-Mimaropa said.
It said coral nursery units (CNUs) have already been established in marine protected areas in Marinduque.
A total of 10 CNUs were set up in the marine protected areas of Tungib-Lipata in Buenavista last June 10-11 and another 10 CNUs in Poctoy, Torrijos on June 22-23, it said.
“CNUs are used to facilitate the growth of the asexually reproduced corals, which are live coral fragments also known as the “corals of opportunity” (COPs) dislodged from a colony through the natural process of fragmentation,” the DOST-Mimaropa explained.
It said CNUs are set up 25 feet underwater and each is designed to hold 500 COPs per batch several times a year.
The DOST-Mimaropa noted that the coral translation technology is expected to be deployed in all six municipalities of Marinduque by the end of July.
The technology is developed by the University of San Carlos (USC) under the Filipinnovation on Coral Reef Restoration Program of the DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), it said.
It was in 2018 when the DOST-Mimaropa started assessing coral reef areas in Marinduque through the adoption of the Automated Rapid Reef Assessment System (ARRAS) that successfully generated a comprehensive report and maps of the coral reef and seagrasses.
ARRAS is a program for coral reef monitoring developed by the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-Diliman) and funded by the DOST.
“The long-term monitoring project revealed that there are already major areas in the province where live coral cover is almost non-existent due to siltation and sedimentation along the coast. Hence, a high priority for management and protection was recommended for those degraded areas,” the DOST-Mimaropa said.
To address the problem, the DOST-Mimaropa joined forces with different stakeholders from concerned government agencies and communities.
It said the provincial offices of the BFAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “conducted their monitoring and evaluation and provided pertinent data for the project as well as necessary permits.”
The DOST-Mimaropa said the experts for the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of the CNUs were provided by the provincial government of Marinduque and Marinduque State College (MSC). They also shouldered necessary training expenses, it said.
“DOST-Mimaropa spearheaded the procurement and deployment of CNUs, provision of technical diving experts, conduct of periodic monitoring and evaluation of the coral’s growth and survivorship and conduct of forum and other information awareness activities.”
It likewise ensured “that the communities are involved in the activities—from the planting of coral fragments to the setting up of CNUs.”