Environmental group moves to protect Cebu’s coral reefs
To protect the remaining coral reefs in the Bantayan Island in Cebu, environmental law group Batas Kalikasan and local cement manufacturer Cemex will embark on replacing damaged reefs with 300 artificial reef balls in the Visayan Sea.
Cemex public affairs director Darwin Mariano said the program was conceptualized in August this year after learning that whale sharks, locally known as butanding, have been sighted in the Visayan Sea, particularly near the Bantayan Island.
The latest initiative of Cemex is in a way associated to an earlier three-year biodiversity conservation program of the company, particularly whale shark protection under the “Adopt-a-Species” project in Donsol, Sorsogon.
In 2007, Cemex has partnered with the Department of Tourism and Bantay Kalikasan for the preservation of whale sharks in Donsol. “We have already completed the circle of research, livelihood, and education in Donsol under the three-year whale shark conservation program. Now we are moving the program to anotherlocation,” Mariano said.
“When I met with Ramon Magsaysay awardee Antonio Oposa of Batas Kalikasan, he mentioned about the sighting of butanding in the area. I thought that since we already conducted a project on whale shark conservation in Donsol, then why don’t we adopt the species this time in Bantayan Island?” he said.
The meeting eventually led to discussions between Cemex and Batas Kalikasan on how they can protect the remaining coral reefs in the area.
Oposa, head of the Batas Kalikasan, earlier established the School of the Seas in the Bantayan Islands.
“The problem in the area is mainly dynamite or blast fishing, causing the damage in coral reefs. We want to help Mother Nature in growing new coral reefs and producing more fish. We want to protect the remaining living coral reefs from further damage,” Mariano said.
He explained that Cemex is in the process of developing a cement mix for the right type of cement to be used to make a durable artificial reef.
He said the Type 1P Cement to be used in the manufacture of artificial reef ball is a blended Portland cement (with additives), which is suitable as it will be immersed into the sea water 300 meters deep. “It also has to match the acidity for certain water levels,” he added.
He explained that the mould is the first indigenous technology that will be used in the manufacture of artificial reefs. The target date for the manufacturing of artificial reef is in the first quarter of 2010.
“By second quarter of 2010, we’ll be ready to deploy 300 reef balls to the sea. Afterwards, we will donate the mould to Batas Kalikasan so they can continuously manufacture the artificial reefs,” Mariano pointed out.
At present, discussions among the project officers of Batas Kalikasan and the technical team of Cemex, composed of chemists and civil engineers are ongoing for the mould design. He said Cemex will initially allocate P3 million for the project.