Coral transplantation project in Sta. Cruz Island approved

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) – The multi-agency Protected Area and Ecotourism Management Board (PAEMB) has approved the proposed coral reef rehabilitation project at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island, this city.

The board, created to oversee the development of the Greater Sta. Cruz Island and other identified protected areas here, is chaired by the city mayor.

The project, which PAEMB approved last week, will involve transplanting 10,000 live coral fragments and setting-up 10 coral nursery units using transplanting technologies approved by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology and the Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative (SPC) will jointly undertake the project.

The SPC is a non-government organization (NGO) accredited by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) to undertake coral restoration.

ZSCMST Prof. Arthur Panganiban said the project would also identify and establish a stream of dive sites, train stakeholders, partners, and community-based stewards to jumpstart and sustain coral restoration and eco-tourism, and promote science-based coral reef management.

Panganiban said the project is an active restoration initiative to mitigate the degradation of coral reefs caused by overexploitation, pollution, and other destructive practices, to be implemented at the western part of the Greater Sta. Cruz Island for a span of one year.

Panganiban said few of the coral reefs within the Greater Sta. Cruz Island are in excellent condition while the other dive sites are just like rubbles, which are the target of the rehabilitation.

Panganiban emphasized the protection of coral reefs will need to combine local management efforts with active restoration initiatives such as coral transplantation, noting that passive restoration is not enough as coral reef ecosystems are degraded at a rate that is too fast for nature to catch up or recover.

Coral transplantation is defined as the physical relocation of coral from a site of inhospitable conditions to where the coral is more likely to thrive.