As part of the province-wide coral restoration project, the Department of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Marinduque, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units (LGUs), and local fishermen groups began deploying coral transplantation technology off the coast of Buenavista and Torrijos, Marinduque. This is the first large-scale restoration effort in the MIMAROPA region that seeks to reverse reef degradation and improve the productivity of marine resources.

Actual deployment and planting of coral fragments in coral nursery units (CNUs) with the support of local fisher folks in Brgy. Tungib-Lipata, Buenavista

A total of 10 Coral Nursery Units (CNUs) are already established in the Marine Protected Areas of Tungib-Lipata in Buenavista last June 10-11 and another 10 CNUs in Poctoy, Torrijos on June 22-23.

CNUs are used to facilitate the growth of the asexually reproduced corals, which are live coral fragments also known as the “corals of opportunity” (COPs) dislodged from a colony through the natural process of fragmentation. CNUs are set up 25 ft. underwater and each is designed to hold 500 COPs per batch several times a year.

The technology is developed by the University of San Carlos (USC) under the Filipinnovation on Coral Reef Restoration Program of the DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).

In 2018, the DOST-MIMAROPA initiated the assessment of coral reef areas in Marinduque through the adoption of the Automated Rapid Reef Assessment System (ARRAS) that successfully generated a comprehensive report and maps of the coral reef and seagrasses. ARRAS is a program for coral reef monitoring developed by the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-Diliman) and funded by the DOST.

The long-term monitoring project revealed that there are already major areas in the province where live coral cover is almost non-existent due to siltation and sedimentation along the coast. Hence, a high priority for management and protection was recommended for those degraded areas.

To ensure a holistic approach in addressing the problem, DOST-MIMAROPA initiated a collaboration with different stakeholders from concerned government agencies and communities. The provincial offices of the BFAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted their monitoring and evaluation and provided pertinent data for the project as well as necessary permits. Meanwhile, the Provincial Government of Marinduque and Marinduque State College (MSC) have provided experts for the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of the CNUs and shouldered necessary training expenses.

DOST-MIMAROPA spearheaded the procurement and deployment of CNUs, provision of technical diving experts, conduct of periodic monitoring and evaluation of the coral’s growth and survivorship and conduct of forum and other information awareness activities. It also ensures that the communities are involved in the activities—from the planting of coral fragments to the setting up of CNUs.

By the end of July 2021, the technology will be deployed in all six (6) municipalities of Marinduque.