25 October 2010

Subic fisher folk launch artificial reef project

Members of fishing communities in the Subic Bay area, in cooperation with local government units and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), recently launched a concrete artificial reef project that was designed to augment traditional fishing grounds in their localities.

Spearheaded by the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (SB-IFARMC), the project consisted of a total of 1,800 units of culvert pyramid-type concrete blocks formed into 60 artificial reef modules.

The P2.3-million project was made possible through the Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF) of the SBMA, which has allotted a P4-million financial assistance to fishing communities affected by development projects in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The concrete modules will be installed at various sites identified by fishermen in the towns of Subic and San Antonio in Zambales, Olongapo City, and Morong town in Bataan.

The project launch was attended by Zambales vice governor Ramon Lacbain II, SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga, SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, Olongapo City mayor James Gordon Jr., and Subic municipal secretary Dick Otero, BFAR-3 assistant director Lilian Garcia, former SBMA director Angela Garcia who represented Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia, and representatives from the Police Maritime Group and the Philippine Coast Guard.

SB-IFARMC chairman Laureano Artagame said that the artificial reef project was designed to mitigate the effects of development in the area, as well as to rehabilitate fishing grounds destroyed by unscrupulous fishermen who employed dynamite, cyanide and other destructive fishing methods.

“Your presence here today is a solid manifestation that you support us in our mission, and that we all believe that we can still regain the bountiful biodiversity of Subic Bay through this initiative,” Artagame said.

For his part, SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga stressed the positive impact of the artificial reef project on the marine environment, and urged Subic Bay stakeholders to strengthen their commitment to conservation.

“We are here to implement a solution,” Salonga said. “And the fact that we are here together only indicates a strong likelihood that the solution we are trying to implement would succeed to the benefit not only of the stakeholders in Subic Bay, but also the marine environment from which we all derive our livelihood.”

“I hope that with this artificial reef project, we shall succeed in promoting a higher marine biodiversity in this area and a better, healthier marine environment for fishing, recreation, tourism, and related businesses,” Salonga also said.

Former SBMA director Angela Garcia said, meanwhile, emphasized the need for environmental protection alongside with activities designed to gain economic development.

“These steps are important to ensure that the vision for the sustainable management of our resources is translated into reality. I do hope that our continued efforts and commitments will reach far to regain back the bountiful resources of our municipal waters,” Garcia added.

Aside from launching the artificial reefs, the SB-IFARMC also commissioned into service two newly built motorized bancas that local volunteers will use as patrol boats for their monitoring, control and surveillance activities. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA administrator Armand Arreza (2nd from left) cuts the ceremonial ribbon during the launching of the artificial reef project of the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Marine Resources Management Council in Subic, Zambales. Joining him are Subic municipal secretary Dick Otero (left), SB-IFARMC chairman Laureano Artagame (right), and representatives of local fisher folk and the BFAR regional office.