Efforts launched to restore Lapu's coral reefs

Efforts launched to restore Lapu's coral reefs
Lapu-Lapu City Hall (File photo)

FOLLOWING the devastating impact of Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) on Lapu-Lapu’s coral reefs in 2021, the City Government, private sector leaders, and volunteers have introduced various methods and initiatives to sustain coral and marine sanctuaries.

In a recently concluded coral rehabilitation and marine sanctuary relaunching held at a resort in Barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan expressed his full support for the restoration program after the outcome of washed-out corals has taken a significant blow to diving businesses and tourism in the city.

Chan ordered different environmental departments of the City to monitor and protect the corals and marine ecosystem.

“I already instructed the City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils, City Agriculture and Fishery Office and City Environment & Natural Resources Office (Cenro) to have this baywatch or Bantay Dagat safeguard our sanctuary and our corals,” said Chan in his speech during the coral rehabilitation program on June 29.

Chan added that resorts are required to provide ropes for operators to secure their motorboats to prevent anchoring in ways that could further damage corals at sea depths.

The city also aims to educate fishermen, especially those involved in illegal fishing, about coral regeneration and rock propagation, elevating the practice of planting corals and seaweeds in the city, said Chan, who noted the need to preserve marine resources as they play a vital role in Lapu-Lapu City’s tourism sector.

Following Typhoon Odette, Dean Apistar, interviewed by SunStar Cebu on Sunday, described the aftermath of diving in Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu. He noted that formerly lush seagrass and seaweed-covered shallows had transformed into barren rocks, with deeper areas and massive coral boulders displaced towards the reef crest.

Upon recent dives, Apistar observed the gradual resurgence of seaweeds and soft corals, albeit not yet to their previous abundance. Hard corals, which take longer to regenerate compared to soft corals, have begun to show signs of recovery, with a few colonies starting to grow based on visual assessments.

Rock propagation

David Gotianun, vice president and special projects head of SharePro, Inc., shared and introduced a method of rock propagation to rehabilitate and address issues concerning the marine ecosystem.

Rock propagation is a method that undergoes the process of collecting and rescuing damaged corals and placing them on rocks to regenerate and form a colony of corals.

The private sector, in collaboration with the City Government, started its coral rehabilitation or rock propagation initiative in 2022.

Gotianun, together with his fellow team members, said the method has reported promising results after observing marine growth in an eight-hectare sanctuary at a resort that was also destroyed during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.

He emphasized the importance of stability, as it is the first requirement for coral growth. He noted that significant changes will be observed within five months of propagation.

Gotianun also added that coral reefs play an important role in the marine ecosystem as these organisms can support and sustain life underwater. He furthered that corals do not sustain life underwater but also provide “50 percent of oxygen above the water.”

“The coral reefs are important for marine life. It is very important that we nurture the system because it not only sustains the marine life underwater but it also sustains on land, above the water. Although coral covers one percent of the water floor area, it actually sustains marine life. They are also oxygen factories that sustain life on Earth,” said Gotianun. / DPC

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