PCAARRD helps restore coral reef

by  Ma. Catherine C. Arzobal

Glued. Lived. Saved.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) showcased its project “Filipinnovation on Coral Reef Restoration,” an initiative to restore broken and degraded coral reefs, during the three-day celebration of SyenSaya 2013 at the University of the Philippines Baños (UPLB) Copeland Gymnasium on July 31 – August 2, 2013.

Filipinnovation on Coral Reef Restoration is a project which started on June 2011 mainly funded by DOST. This innovation is a process of cultivating the tissues of corals through a special type of nursery installed on the surface of the sea with a width size of 3 meters x 1 meter and half meter in height. In the cultivation process, the corals are tied on the nursery to let it grow until it is ready for planting.

According to Mr. Eugene Afalla, Science Research Specialist from PCAARRD, it takes 2-3 months for the corals to restore their tissue and grow its branches. The divers who are trained and guided by PCAARRD determine if the corals are healthy and ready for planting. A special type of epoxy called ‘marine epoxy’ is used to permanently attach the broken fragments of corals to the hard substrates of the ocean. These substrates are reefs which are ridges of rocks in the sea. After some time, the coral naturally attaches itself to the substrate and eventually branch out again providing additional habitat for thousands of aquatic species.

Along the one-year run of the project, Mr. Afalla said that they find the epoxy costly and is only limited for certain areas. PCAARRD’s team addressed this by using concrete nails to secure the broken coral fragments on the surface of the rocks by binding them on the nail using rubber or ordinary knot. This allows the corals to attach itself on the rocks after a period of time.

Using the coral nursery, degraded and broken fragments of coral reefs can now be retrieved instead of letting it die. PCAARRD tested and proved its effectivity to protect the shoreline and restore habitat for school of fish along the one-year run of the project. They are coordinating with local government units, local universities, hotel owners and divers as the project targets tourism hubs such as beaches in the country.

On May 2012, the project was piloted in various areas of the country. Among these are: Baler, Aurora; Bagac, Bataan; Laiya and Anilao in Batangas; Ticao, Masbate; Panglao, Bohol; Malay and Tangalan in Aklan; Sogod, Southern Leyte; and Tawi-Tawi.

Meanwhile, Mr. Afalla added that PCAARRD already has the technology package but the study is still ongoing. He also explained that the innovation has no particular limitation since the area of implementation is assessed before the installation.

Coral reef restoration will benefit the country by providing habitat, income, food, protection and even medicine as researches show that coral reefs can be a source of potential treatments for many of the world’s serious illnesses. But further researches are still needed to prove this claim.

The installation of nurseries in certain areas is not purchased because it is a government project. PCAARRD wants the people to be aware of this project because they believe that people are capable of saving the coral reefs for a rich marine ecosystem.

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