Better coral reef protection seen in Zambales

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11:26 PM May 2nd, 2013

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May 2nd, 2013 11:26 PM

REP. JUN Omar Ebdane and his father, Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, welcome President Aquino during the President’s recent visit to the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in San Narciso, Zambales. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines —Coral reef protection in Zambales has been intensified to support municipal fishery and seaweed harvesting, Zambales Rep. Jun Omar Ebdane said.

The use of cyanide in fishing has been minimized through monitoring at the provincial, municipal and barangay (village) levels but poaching in municipal waters remains a concern, said Ebdane, a member of the House committee on aquaculture and fisheries.

Fish and seaweeds depend on coral reefs for life and shelter. Corals also break waves, making coastal communities much safer, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

Arman Morales, assistant seaweed action officer of the BFAR, said more measures should be exerted on coral reef protection in Candelaria, Zambales, because that is where the province’s seaweeds are grown.

Zambales produces some 975 metric tons of seaweeds yearly for import and export, Morales said.

A kilogram of fresh seaweeds costs between P3 and P5 while a kilogram of dried seaweeds fetches P30.

Processing plants in Cebu buy seaweeds at P50 a kilogram.

Morales said coral reefs protection in Zambales is also done by the BFAR, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), nongovernment organizations and the University of the Philippines. They involve the youth in that task, he said.

Ebdane said he has tapped the DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, as well as Batangas State University, to help in reef conservation.

Experts said pollution hastens the degradation of corals. “An effective science-based program management can save, sustain and restore our valuable coral reefs and other marine resources that depend on this reef system. The key to preserve coral reefs is to mitigate the threats,” Ebdane said in a statement.

He said he would bring alternative livelihood to fisher folk to wean them away from destructive activities. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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