A growing town in Masbate province has made headway in enhancing its marine ecosystem, following a sustained joint effort of town officials and a Masbate-based company in deploying reef balls and planting coral fragments covering the town’s large protected area.
Environmentalists view reef restoration as a crucial factor in a sustainable environment-friendly marine life which, in turn, will assure an thriving source of livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk in the area.
The joint drive of local officials of Aroroy town and PhilGold Processing and Refining Corporation (PhilGold) has achieved significant gains in reef recreation, following more than three years of reef ball deployment and coral restoration.
The recent report said that some 2,203 reef balls have been deployed, and 29,273 coral fragments have been planted. The work began in 2017, following the joint move of town and company officials to rehabilitate the coral reefs, following their destruction by dynamite and illegal fishing.
A reef ball is an artificial reef designed to mimic the function of a natural reef, with holes that create whirlpools around it. It is placed there to restore ailing or destroyed coral reefs.
These are made of a special, marine-friendly concrete and used around the world to create habitat for fish and other marine and freshwater species. Reef balls are made in many sizes to best match the natural reef type.
A new technology and local government’s political will, fish and marine life now abound in Aroroy town, particularly at the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Colorada Point, in Barangay Tigbao.
The Colorada Point was declared a marine protected area, with PhilGold serving as its main driver. Also, Phil Gold has been continually expanding the mangroves planting program to provide additional livelihood to the coastal community of Port Barrera in the same town.
Various species of fish, including the presence of some turtles, lobsters, and other marine life, have been observed thriving at the protected marine area.
The Reef Ball Foundation, a U.S.-based and a publicly supported non-profit global environmental NGO has introduced the new technology. The global foundation is driven by a three-pronged mandate: rehabilitate the world’s ocean reef ecosystems, restore ailing or destroyed coral reefs, and create new fishing and scuba diving sites.
PhilGold has also hired the local fishermen in the community to serve as wardens of the MPA and assistants for coral planting and propagation works. A goat dispersal project was also implemented as part of the livelihood program support to the fisherfolk organization in the area.
PhilGold is a wholly owned by Vancouver-based gold producer B2Gold, and has been operating the processing plant in the Masbate Gold Project since 2007. It reported its first gold pouring in 2009.
The $250-million project is PhilGold’s single biggest investment in Masbate and is now one of the largest operating gold projects in the country.
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