Australia-funded coral restoration project underway in Zambales  


RESTORATION work is underway in damaged reefs in Iba, Zambales in northeastern Philippines through a P15.3-million project funded by the Australian Embassy. 

The Mead Foundation, one of the implementers, said the two-year project will use several best practices for coral restoration for the first time in the Philippines. 

“Essentially, we want to help restore coral reefs and promote greater resilience in our project sites, not only in Zambales but also in other parts of the country in future,” Ben Mead, founder of The Mead Foundation, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Professor Peter Harrison of Australia’s Southern Cross University, the project lead, said it is “an exciting opportunity to combine both larval restoration of corals using millions of larvae cultured from coral spawning events, with traditional coral gardening approaches to restore coral communities in damaged reef areas near Iba.” 

The Marine Environment and Resources Foundation, Inc. of the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute is also involved in the coral conservation program. 

Mr. Mead said “the project is designed for long term impact, and whilst the funding from the Australian Government covers the project’s first two years’ of operation, we have plans to make this project self-sustaining in future. “

Coral restoration will be undertaken in areas covered by the Calanga Marine Protected Area (MPA) and nearby MPAs. 

“This aims to improve local fishing community earnings through improved catch and eco-tourism,” Mr. Mead said.

“As part of our initiative we have opened a dive shop located near the project area, so recreational divers can experience the project research as well as other good reef sites nearby. All the profits go to sustaining the conservation project and helping with the management of the MPA, and in that way we plan for it to become self-sustaining,” he said. — MSJ