The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in collaboration with the provincial government of Marinduque, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units (LGUs), and local fishermen groups, began deploying coral transplantation technology off the coasts of Buenavista and Torrijos, Marinduque, as part of a province-wide coral restoration project.
This is the MIMAROPA region’s first large-scale restoration effort aimed at reversing reef deterioration and increasing the productivity of marine resources.
A total of 10 Coral Nursery Units (CNUs) are already established 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.
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. CNUs are set up 25 ft. underwater and each is designed to hold 500 COPs per batch several times a year.
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).
The Automated Rapid Reef Assessment System (ARRAS) was successfully used by the DOST-MIMAROPA to evaluate coral reef areas in Marinduque in 2018, resulting in a comprehensive article and maps of the coral reef and seagrasses. ARRAS is a coral reef monitoring program developed by the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-Diliman) and funded by the DOST.
Due to siltation and sedimentation along the shore, the long-term monitoring research has found that there are already considerable areas in the province where living coral cover is almost non-existent. As a consequence, the deteriorated sites were given top priority for management and protection.
DOST-MIMAROPA formed a collaboration with various stakeholders from concerned government agencies and communities to ensure a holistic approach to addressing the problem. Monitoring and evaluation were carried out by the BFAR provincial offices and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who also provided relevant data and permits for the project.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Government of Marinduque and Marinduque State College (MSC) have provided expertise and covered the costs of training for the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of the CNUs.
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 also ensures that the communities are involved in the activities—from the planting of coral fragments to the setting up of CNUs.
By the end of July 2021, the technology will be deployed in all six (6) municipalities of Marinduque.