Residents of Barangay Poblacion (central district) of Zamboanguita town in Negros Oriental, especially those along the coast, are starting to reap the benefits of the “Build-A-Reef” and “Adopt-A-Barangay” projects of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) in the province and their local partners.
After the twin programs were launched in 2016, villagers reported that they are now able to catch fish and “dalupapa” (a huge squid that grows about a foot or more in length) in what was once an unproductive sea, revealed Lt. Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho, chief of staff of the PCG’s South District Command based in Dumaguete City.
“Napili ni siya nga barangay tungod kay nakita man nga walay mga coral reefs didto (This barangay was chosen because of the absence of coral reefs in the area),” Ramacho said.
Partnering with the PCGA’s 1306th Squadron led by Capt. Junedith Arnaez, the local Coast Guard adopted Barangay Poblacion, Zamboanguita and embarked on its project of building an artificial reef there with the use of hollow blocks some two years ago.
Ramacho said the first “drop” of hollow blocks totaling to 200 pieces was carried out in May 2016 by divers from the PCG, PCGA 1306th Squadron, the town’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and some private individuals.
In May 2017, 87 pieces of hollow blocks were dropped in the same area to about 20 to 30 feet deep, she added.
On Saturday, program collaborators will once again dive and drop 300 pieces of hollow blocks to further expand the artificial reef, according to Ramacho.
“We have to involve the barangay (and its residents) because aside from benefitting from the artificial reef, they have a responsibility to monitor, maintain, and take care of it,” she said.
The artificial reef serves as a natural habitat and nesting area for fish and other marine life, and eventually, the people will come to appreciate it, she added.
Ramacho said they do not know yet how far and wide they will expand the artificial reef but for now, the area covered will suffice. PNA