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New mangroves to bring jobs, eco protection

/ 05:39 AM October 31, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) is developing new mangrove areas to boost the country’s defense against storm surges and tsunamis as well as provide jobs for residents of coastal towns.

The DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), has earmarked P237.5 million to plant new mangroves and establish “aquasilvi” projects in coastal communities.

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Aquasilvi culture refers to fish farms in mangroves. Experts say this is an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to increasing fish production as it does not entail the cutting of mangrove trees or the building of new fishponds.

The aquasilvi program aims to increase municipal fish production and provide fishermen with a sustainable livelihood and income.

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“What is significant about this program is that government money will directly benefit fishermen and their families, create more jobs, and, more importantly, result in improving and protecting our aquatic resources,” said BFAR Director Asis Perez.

The country’s mangrove hectarage has drastically declined over the years due to neglect and the development of coastal communities.

The DA-BFAR’s reforestation program is aimed at rehabilitating the country’s mangrove cover, which shrunk by more than 80 percent from its pristine state of half a billion hectares in the early 1900s.

Aside from helping preserve the marine environment, mangroves also protect coastal communities against typhoon surges and tsunamis. They also prevent soil erosion and trap carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to mitigate global warming.

The BFAR targets the planting of 100 million mangrove propagules or mangrove shoots in the next three years.

Priority areas are abandoned, underutilized and unproductive fishponds. New mangroves would serve as potential aquasilvi fish farms for marginal fisherfolk and their families.

“The more mangrove areas we rehabilitate and develop, the more fish and aquatic species we would nurture and produce, as mangroves serve as their spawning and nursery grounds,” Perez said.

Under the program, 11 million propagules will be planted in 3,667 hectares of new mangrove areas.

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TAGS: “aquasilvi” culture, BFAR, defense against storms, Department of Agriculture, Mangroves
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