‘Taclobo’ a magnet for fish in Bohol
BOHOL—Romeo Pogoso considers the presence of 20 giant clams in their coastal village in Dauis town in Bohol “a big risk.”
This meant that residents must now double their efforts to protect the “taclobo” in their Marine Protective Area (MPA) in Barangay Bingag, according to the village chair.
Thieves can sell the clams at P4,000 each, Pogoso said.
But it is one risk the community is willing to take, he said, because the marine creatures can help address the dwindling fish catch in the province.
Bingag, 30 minutes by car from the capital city of Tagbilaran, is one of the beneficiaries of the giant clam seeding program, which the provincial government launched in February. Gov. Edgar Chatto said the provincial government wanted to repopulate the seas of Bohol with the taclobo because these could bring fish back.
The provincial government bought 101 giant clams, weighing 15 to 25 kilograms, from Bolinao town in Pangasinan at P4,000 each. Another batch of 100 is expected to arrive in Bohol in June.
Before the clams were airlifted to Bohol on board a C-130 plane of the Philippine Air Force, these were wrapped in “cacha” cloth and cellophane, and placed in Styrofoam boxes with oxygen, said Adelfa Salutan, sector head of the Coast Resource Management of the Bohol Environment Management Office.
The clams arrived at the Tagbilaran airport on Feb. 20.
Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Armed Forces vice chief of staff, said this was the first time a military plane was used to transport the giant clams, as instructed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, AFP chief of staff.
Twenty of the taclobo were brought to the MPA in Bingag while the rest were distributed to the MPAs on Balicasag Island in Panglao town, Barangay Basdio in Guindulman town, Barangay Badiang in Anda town and Barangay Lipata in Carlos P. Garcia town.
Salutan said the clams served as incentives to local government units for acquiring Level 3 or 4 status in managing their MPAs.
Divers had to replant the creatures immediately because these can survive outside the sea for only 11 hours. They belong to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bohol, provincial police, 2nd Special Forces Battalion, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the provincial government’s Socio-Economic and Environmental Management (SEEM) and other local agencies and groups.
Even local dive shop operators and volunteers lent their motorized boats for the clam planting, said the PCG chief in Bohol, Cmdr. Agapito Bibat.
A Cebu-based marine biologist, Mario Marababol, said the presence of the giant clams could be a good indicator of a “healthy reef.” Aside from being a natural water filter, the shell of clams could attract sponges where fish could feed, he said.
Marababol said it might take five to 10 years before the clams could attract fish, depending on the stress level in the marine environment. He cited overfishing as one of the factors that slow down the process of rehabilitation.
Andres Bojos, of the BFAR regional office, acknowledged that fish catch in Bohol was dwindling, mainly due to illegal fishing. But he added that efforts to stop it had been doubled.
“It is not as rampant as before,” Bojos said.
Governor Chatto said the taclobo should not be harvested because their presence was meant to bring the fish back. The clams are 8 years old and expected to lay millions of eggs a year.
Liza Quirog, head of SEEM, echoed the appeal of the governor to leave the taclobo alone. She said anyone who dares take them would face criminal charges.
Violators face 12 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P120,000. With a report from Veda Bongcalos
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