Filtered By: Scitech

Environmentalists propose new sanctuary as Apo Island reef ruined by typhoons

A team of scientists and environment advocates proposed the development of a marine reserve on the western section of Negros Oriental's Apo Island so that sea life that lost their habitat on the eastern side due to recent typhoons could have a new home. Greenpeace, Silliman University, and the Coastal Conservation Education Foundation surveyed the coral reef southeast of Apo Island last July 9 to 12 and found that nearly all of the reef was destroyed. “Ninety-eight percent of the reef has been wiped out and in some areas about 100 percent ‘yung damage sa reef. The reef has been wiped out. Walang natira,” according to Mark Gia, regional oceans campaign manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. In an interview with GMA News Online, Gia said typhoons Sendong and Pablo, which passed through Apo Island in 2011 and 2012, are the likely causes of the reef devastation. “All boulders have been overturned and the coral reef was washed ashore. A lot of branching corals have been broken and died,” Gia noted, citing that the incident caused the fish population to drop by 50 percent., The Greenpeace activist said it is unusual for Apo Island to bear the brunt of storms., The Apo Island reserve, which spans 25 hectares, is among the oldest protected marine reserves in the country and is home to over 650 species of fish and 400 species of corals. “Branching corals has a very delicate formation sa wave action. Nung nagkaroon ng storm surge, inararo nito ang bahura. Hindi maka-cope sa ganitong weather ang branching corals. Ang mga stony corals na nakakabit sa mga bato mas resilient sa waves,” the Greenpeace environmentalist explained. Video courtesy of Greenpeace Dr. Janet Estacion of the Silliman University Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences said the increasing frequency and severity of typhoons is among the effects of climate change and has had direct impact on Filipinos living in coastal areas. “They are directly impacted through the destruction of property and disruption of livelihood,” she said. But there is hope. Gia said the marine habitat on the western side of Apo Island was spared from typhoon wrath, has remained intact. It can be developed with the help of local communities and the national government. He said there are diving spots on the west and marine turtles have been sighted there. “By creating another marine reserve with a higher resiliency for the new reality of these typhoons, there will be a place for fish spawning,” he noted. While the western reef flourishes and if Apo Island is spared the wrath of future storms, the eastern reef will have time to recover, according to Greenpeace's Gia. — ELR, GMA News