Anilao dive spot gets coral restoration lab

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In photo, Eco-Mer and Divers Institute of Technology consultant William McGilton, MPIC Foundation President Melody del Rosario, and marine ecology expert Prof. Avigdor (AV) Abelson of the Tel Aviv University in Israel.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) Foundation, through its Shore It Up program, recently received a donation of 40 eco-reef modules, which will be installed in Balayan Bay, one of the country’s top scuba-diving destinations.

Since 2016, MPIC Foundation has been nurturing a Coral Restoration Field Laboratory in Barangay Solo in Mabini, Batangas, to help restore the marine ecosystem of the area. In the past two years, it has laid 12 modules that had provided valuable data to help in the flourishing of aquatic life in the barangay.

Eco-Mer artificial reef units are made of marine concrete, which has better larval attachment, higher survival rates of coral recruits and wider niche range for higher species diversity, beyond any other commercial artificial reefs. The laboratory serves as an underwater work station for volunteer divers to study the fluid dynamics, study coral growth potential at Eco-Mer units per depth, and other scientific diving related to monitoring and coral restoration for Mabini.

The artificial coral reefs undergo monitoring and scientific activities to help enrich the ecosytem of Anilao’s dive spots by setting up marine sanctuaries. 

Volunteer divers and local Bantay Dagat who will serve as technicians of the underwaterlaboratory were certified by the National Association of Underwater Instructors. Mooring buoys will also be installed in dive sites to prevent damage to corals caused by dropping of anchors. According to MPIC Vice President for PR and corporate communications Melody del Rosario, Shore It Up started in 2009 as a coastal cleanup movement in the Anilao dive spot, and has expended into a comprehensive marine biodiversity conservation program which covers underwater cleanups, mangrove propagation, giant-clam rearrangement, artificial reef restoration and community livelihood projects.

She added that coral restoration is one way of responding to the effects of climate change and help working on solutions for sustainable use of the sea as a source of food and livelihood for fishermen and ocean stakeholders.

Shore It Up has been held in key coastal areas such as Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro; Subic Bay Freeport Zone; Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan; del Carmen in Siargao Island; Panglao and Pamilacan Islands in Bohol; Surigao City; Medina, Misamis Oriental; and Cordova, Cebu.

For the past 10 years, it has mustered over 85,000 volunteers from the Metro Pacific group of companies, national government agencies, local government units, law-enforcement agencies, academe, civil-society groups and dive industry stakeholders. A good number of these volunteers are recruits in the Junior Environmental Scouts (JES), an environmental education initiative for school children. To sustain these environmental undertakings, the Foundation helped establish Mangrove Propagation and Information Centers in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, which can be located in Alaminos City, Pangasinan; del Carmen, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte; the third in Cordova, Cebu.    

The Metro Pacific program is a recipient of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines’s Anvil Award of Merit for sustained environmental program for the environment from 2011 to 2016, as well as the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program in the Corporate Governance Asia Award for 2017 and 2018.