Sav­ing corals one step at a time

Cebu Daily News - - FEATURE -

Plas­tic threat

Re­search As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Put Ang Jr. of the Chi­nese Univer­sity in Hongkong said prob­lems re­sult­ing from the use of plas­tic pre­vail as there are yet no so­lu­tions that would dis­cour­age its use.

“These things, that we are tak­ing for granted for so long, are ac­tu­ally hav­ing a lot of im­pact,” added Ang while he called on the pub­lic to min­i­mize the use of plas­tics.

Coral reefs

Chou Loke Ming, pres­i­dent of the APCRS steer­ing com­mit­tee said that about 95 per­cent of coral reefs in South­east Asia are un­der threat.

Based on the group’s as­sess­ment in 2011, over­fish­ing and de­struc­tive fish­ing are the big­gest fac­tors that lead to the dam­age of coral reefs.

In Cebu, Lorenz Gideon Es­mero of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Coastal and Ma­rine Ecosys­tem Man­age­ment Pro­gram (DENR - CMEMP) said that coral reef con­di­tions vary depend­ing on lo­ca­tion.

A sur­vey con­ducted by CMEMP in 2017, showed that coral reefs in Os­lob and Si­bonga re­mained rich and the two south­ern Cebu towns had an abun­dance of ma­rine life.

In Si­bonga, about 80 per­cent of sea­wa­ters had live hard corals; while in Os­lob, par­tic­u­larly in the sea­wa­ters of Sumilon Is­land, live corals cov­ered at least 57 per­cent.

Mean­while, in the seas of Medellin, north­ern Cebu, coral cover was con­sid­ered “poor” at 25 per­cent, the CMEMP sur­vey showed.

Es­mero said corals usu­ally live at a depth of be­tween three to 40 me­ters be­low sea level, enough for sun­light to pen­e­trate.

There are two types of corals, the live hard corals which se­crete cal­cium car­bon­ate and builds a reef ; and the soft corals which are not as useful, said Es­mero.

“The more live corals there are, the­more­places­forother­co­ral­sto grow, “Es­mero said in Ce­buano.

Aside from the col­or­ful life forms un­der­wa­ter, Es­mero em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of coral reefs as fish habi­tat and as cush­ion for the dam­ag­ing ef­fect of waves.

“Dili kaayo na ku­sog ang ha­pak sa ba­wod. Wala lang na ma- ap­pre­ci­ate sa fish­er­men (The waves don’t bat­ter as much. Fish­er­men just don’t ap­pre­ci­ate that.),” he said.

Corals are dam­aged due to nat­u­ral calami­ties or ir­re­spon­si­ble man­made ac­tions such as il­le­gal fish­ing and the dis- charge of waste wa­ter into the sea.

Chal­lenges and so­lu­tions

Speak­ing at the fo­rum, Se­na­tor Loren Le­garda, chair­per­son of the se­nate com­mit­tee on cli­mate change, warned that throw­ing garbage into the sea and the fail­ure to seg­re­gate waste, would even­tu­ally re­sult to the seas turn­ing into “waste bins”.

“We look at our rivers and our lakes, and our wa­ters and our oceans, as san­i­tary bins some­times,” Le­garda said.

Al­though, there are some en­vi­ron­men­tal laws that aim to pro­tect the seas and ma­rine life such as Clean Wa­ter Act, Eco­log­i­cal Solid Waste Man­age­ment Act of 2000, and Na­tional In­te­grated Pro­tected Ar­eas Sys­tem (NIPAS), Le­garda said these laws be­come use­less if not strictly en­forced by na­tional gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Ler­garda posed a chal­lenge to na­tional agen­cies, such as the DENR, Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA), and Bureau of Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources (BFAR) to per­son­ally meet the lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives of the dif­fer­ent lo­cal­i­ties and barangays to spread aware­ness on the im­por­tance of the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

Le­garda also called on the pub­lic to be re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens.

“We should have the great­est sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and malasakit (con­cern) to­wards the en­vi­ron­ment which is the source of hu­man life,” Le­garda said.

CDN FILE PHO­TOS

Swim­mers pass over a patch of healthy corals dur­ing the swim leg of the Co­bra En­ergy Drink Iron­man 70.3 Asia Pa­cific Cham­pi­onship in this Au­gust 2016 pho­tos (above, left photo, be­low, left) in Lapu Lapu City. Be­low, a diver en­joys the corals and rich un­der­wa­ter ma­rine life in Sumilon Is­land in Os­lob town in south­ern Cebu.

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