Coral reefs in Boracay need rehab, says study
ILOILO CITY — Coral reefs in Boracay have reached an alarming state of deterioration and urgently need protection and rehabilitation, according to scientists.
A study conducted by the McKeough Marine Center, which is based at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, said priority should be given on the protection of coral reefs in the eastern side of Boracay, which, it said, were already in “distress.”
“This would include identifying potential stressors and, at the same time, minimizing stress on the overused sites. Intervention is highly needed in order to at least stabilize the current status of the reefs,” said the 31-page final report, which was released this month.
The study, conducted in September last year, was supported by the Petron Foundation, the local government of Malay and the Boracay Foundation.
Coral reefs act as home and nursing grounds of a variety of fish species, and serve as natural buffers for strong waves. Their destruction is caused by many factors, including increased sea surface temperature, unregulated tourism and overfishing.
“Stress brought about by tourists could be minimized by either regulating the number of people using the area or ensuring an ecologically sound tourism activity that minimizes or eliminates damage,” the report said.
It noted that in its three survey sites—Laguna de Boracay Reef, Tulubhan Reef and Ilig-iligan Reef—fish population and fish mass were in poor conditions, indicating overfishing or poor environmental conditions.
“Generally, the three sites are all in an alarming state in terms of reef fish resources…,” it said.
The scientists recommended immediate action, including coral transplantation and the establishment of marine protected areas.
They also recommended the regulation of tourism activities, such as snorkeling, treatment of sewage effluents and putting up mooring buoys in frequently visited sites to prevent anchor damages.
It said the survey areas could still recover if the activities there were regulated and the marine habitat was left undisturbed.
Private groups and the local government have launched projects to conserve and rehabilitate the coral reefs.
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