Coral nursery, pawikan site rise at Subic

Coral nursery, pawikan site rise at Subic

A CORAL garden nursery and pawikan preservation site will soon rise at the Subic Bay Freeport.

Representatives from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and other stakeholders inside this premier freeport signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) on Friday at the All Hands Beach Resort.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Rolen Paulino said the sea turtle nest preservation and coral garden nursery construction projects shall be constructed in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), PNP Regional Maritime Unit 3, Brighterday Subic Ltd. Inc., and Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative.

“The SBMA aims to restore balance in our ecosystem, which will also be beneficial to our tourism industry. We want to preserve the wildlife inside the Subic Bay Freeport while maintaining the area as the number one tourist destination in Central Luzon,” Paulino said.

He said that All Hands Beach Resort is one of the tourist destinations in Subic Freeport that has maintained a good balance between tourism and eco-conservation.

“It is not just the responsibility of the agency to clean and preserve the ecosystem of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. This should also be the responsibility of the various stakeholders here,” he said.

Penro Zambales Director Marife Castillo said that May has been declared the Month of the Ocean and the best way to celebrate it is to establish a coral garden nursery.

The garden is a coral augmentation project that aims to grow corals within an area, she said.

According to the agreement, Penro will assist in monitoring and managing marine turtle hatcheries, solicit the participation of stakeholders, rehabilitate degraded marine turtle habitats by enhancing the recovery of mangroves and coral reefs, and assign a wildlife enforcement officer.

Brighterday Subic Ltd. Inc., the company that owns and operates the All Hands Beach Resort, has also collaborated with the SBMA and the DENR in the implementation of the marine turtle nesting site project inside its resort.

Brighterday Chairman Mark Dayrit said the resort has already released around 8,000 sea turtle hatchlings since it opened in 2012. Under the MoA, the company will monitor the pawikan sightings and the coral augmentation work.

Dayrit added that the company will also provide logistical support to the SBMA Harbor Patrol in the conduct of maintenance and protection activities.

Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative, meanwhile, will conduct a baseline assessment and monthly monitoring of reef buds. The cooperative will spearhead the monitoring, maintenance and protection of the site of the coral nursery garden.

Meanwhile, Regional Maritime Unit 3 chief Col. Fernando Cunanan Jr. said that aside from their usual mandate as police officers, part of their duty is to protect the environment.

He said that his unit has arrested thousands for illegal poaching and 30 people involved in the illegal trade of wildlife.

The official said they cannot do this without the help of the community, citing that to protect the community needs the involvement of each and every one.

The agreement included a coastal cleanup drive where “Scubasureros” collected underwater trash near the All Hands Beach Resort.

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