A vast marine protected area off the island of Aroroy in Masbate has recently witnessed the “return to life” of coral reefs, following the steady deployment of close to 3,000 reef balls in a determined bid to rehabilitate the area.
The Phil Gold Processing & Refining Corporation (PGPRC), a gold processing company in Aroroy, Masbate has made substantial progress in marine life renewal in the adjoining communities’ marine resources, since it began the environmental restoration project in 2013.
One of eight species of giant clams found in the Philippines, tridacna squamosa, was sighted at the Colorada Marine Protected Area (MPA) where PGPRC deployed the reef balls. Two other species of giant clams: tridacna maxima and tridacna gigas were also seen within the MPA and were found to be “natural recruits,” indicating the that the reef is coming back to life.
The MPA located in Aroroy, Masbate was heavily damaged by illegal and dynamite fishing in the past, which prompted PGPRC to start efforts in rehabilitating it back in 2017.
According to latest consolidated reports, 2,743 reef balls have been deployed by PGPRC, propagated and planted approximately 40,482 coral fragments. To complement the rehabilitation of the MPA, PGPRC is also conducting a mangrove reforestation program and has planted over half a million mangrove seedlings — 510,000 to be exact — covering an area of approximately 115 hectares.
A reef ball is an artificial reef with holes that create whirlpools around it. It was developed by the Reefball Foundation, a publicly supported non-profit and international environmental NGO whose mission is to rehabilitate the world’s ocean reef ecosystems and to protect the natural reef systems using artificial reef technologies, to restore ailing or destroyed coral reefs and create new fishing and scuba diving sites.
Reef balls are made of a special marine-friendly concrete and used around the world to creates habitats for fish and other marine and freshwater species. Reef balls are made in many sizes to best match the natural reef type. They function better when they mimic nature.
The reef restoration project is part of the initiatives for the Port Barera Rehabilitation Project, which was launched in 2013, in partnership with the local government in Aroroy. The construction and deployment of the reef balls started in 2017 in tandem with the US-based Reef Ball Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization with a mission to rehabilitate the world’s ocean reef ecosystems and to protect the natural reef systems using Reef Ball artificial reef technologies.
Local fisherfolk helped in the production of the reef balls and have become the wardens of the MPA.