THE Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) has asked local officials not to rely on a single agency in clearing their respective marine protected areas (MPAs) of the coral-preying crown-of-thorns sea star.
Penro chief Rodel Bontuyan said the officials should not wait for the Capitol to act on their problem with the sea star, locally known as dap-ag, since they know their areas better.
He said the MPAs would be in danger if the crown-of-thorns sea star (Cots) outbreak continues.
Penro is prioritizng 50 MPAs affected by Cots. These are in Bantayan Island (eight), Camotes Island (eight), San Remigio (five), Argao (five), Oslob (four), Tuburan (four), Moalboal (three), Cordova (three), Dalaguete (three), Carmen (two) and Tabogon (two).
The other local government units that have at least one MPA affected by Cots are Santander, Samboan and Talisay City.
Penro’s coastal resources management chief Dalton Dacal said the sea star can eat up six square meters of corals in one year.
The Cots play an important role in the ecosystem as it often eat the faster growing corals, giving the slower growing species a chance to catch up and enhance the coral diversity of the reefs.
But when the coral-eating sea stars appear in outbreak proportions, the impact on coral reefs can be disastrous, according to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s website at www.greatbarrierreef.org/.
Large female sea stars can produce up to 65 million eggs per season.
Dacal said Tabogon and Moalboal are towns most affected by the onslaught of the sea stars.
In 2018, Penro personnel led the clearing of the 10-hectare MPA in Barangay Saavedra, Moalboal, where they filled three large barrels with crown-of-thorns. (From SCG of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)