ILOILO – After snorkeling in Agho Island in Concepcion town earlier this month, singer-songwriter Rockwell Ryan Ripperger of the famous American acoustic band Stephen Speaks decided to help the community restore its coral reefs.
“I do understand that after (Super Typhoon) Yolanda (in 2013), a lot of reefs in the Visayan Sea were damaged,” said Ripperger, adding that the restoration is possible since he saw “a couple of healthy reefs where there are plenty of corals and fish. But for most part, it's dead reef.”
Ripperger shared his plan during the convergence meeting of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Oceana Philippines, Visayas Sea Squadron, Guardians of the Visayas Sea and Local Government Units of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Masbate and Capiz on ecosystem approach to fisheries management of the Visayas Sea on February 19.
“People here have been surprised how much I know about the ocean considering that I don’t live anywhere near one. I live in Oklahoma. It is a land-lock state in the United States. But I have been in a hobby of salt water fish tanks and coral reefs for about 17 years,” said Ripperger who had series of gigs in the region.
The singer plans to raise funds to build a small coral reef nursery in Concepcion and Governor Arthur Defensor Sr, through Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo, assured him that he will support his project.
“The plan is to go find healthy reefs and damage reefs. Get a piece of coral from a healthy reef, grow them in the nursery and once they are big enough, we’ll plant it in the dead reef. Within a year or two there will be plenty of fish,” he said.
He stressed that coral reefs are at the bottom of the food chain – if corals die, fish dies.
Provincial Administrator Raul Banias said they are receptive of Ripperger's ideas and his contribution to their effort to conserve, protect and restore the richness of the Visayas Sea will be valued by the people.
Ripperger used to volunteer at a local reef store in Oklahoma where he fragment and grow corals and fish. He also has 90-gallon fish tank at his house that he built himself. (PR)