The volunteer divers and lifeguards pose for a group shot before heading off to sea.
With its coral cover assessed to be in alarmingly poor condition, proponents of the Boracay Beach Management Program (BBMP) have undertaken coral reef restoration efforts as part of its coastal resources management program. Through the initiative of the BBMP-Technical Working Group, reef rehabilitation activities consisting of the establishment of coral nurseries, transplantation of coral nubbins on degraded reefs, and deployment of reef domes, were launched in September 2010. Monitoring reports by the coastal and marine resources team headed by Mike Labatiao have reported encouraging results.
Earlier studies revealed that Boracay's live coral cover had seriously deteriorated to only about 15-20%. In 2009, the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation Inc. (CCEFI) reported that coral conditions on the western side consisted of about 23% live coral, while about 77% were non-living. A Xavier University assessment of the eastern side in 2010 recorded 42% live coral cover, while a 2011 study of the southern side by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) indicated an alarmingly low 9% live coral cover.
Mr. Mike Labatiao of the Boracay Foundation briefs the volunteer divers and lifeguards before the deployment of the artificial reef domes.
Through the initiative of the local government of Malay, Aklan, under the leadership of Mayor John P. Yap, and in close collaboration with Boracay Foundation Inc., Petron Foundation, San Miguel Corporation and other stakeholders, the Boracay Beach Management Program (BBMP) focused on coastal resources management as one of its priority areas.
In particular, Petron partnered with Boracay Foundation Inc. to champion the reef rehabilitation program. In September 2010, a coral nursery using PVC nets was established near Crocodile Island. Another coral nursery, made of biotech screens, was planted at the Balinghai snorkeling area in May 2011. Coral nubbins from the nurseries were then transplanted and attached to dead coral to encourage regrowth and eventually restore live coral cover.
Mayor John P. Yap and the volunteers deployed the domes from the barge, which the divers then arranged underwater.
Multi-functional reef domes were deployed about 100-meters from the Boracay shoreline. Aside from serving as nurseries for coral regrowth, they are also fish sanctuaries and help increase fish density. At the same time, they act as wave breakers during the typhoon season. Because of their utility, the BBMP-TWG is building more reef domes to be deployed along Boracay's main beach area.
With its previous experience in the United Nations Development Programme's Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) framework, Petron coordinated the local government initiatives of Mayor Yap to target seven priority areas under the BBMP. These include coastal resources management, water and waste water management, solid waste management, watershed protection, hazard prevention, local governance, and information, education and communication. With a strong partnership among stakeholders under the leadership of the local government unit, other partner agencies who actively contribute to the BBMP include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local agencies, non-government organizations, youth groups, and the business sector.