Subic Bay Freeport—A coral garden nursery and pawikan preservation site will soon rise in this premier Freeport.This is in an effort to preserve the nesting site of marine turtles and launch a coral garden nursery in the waters of Subic Bay, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and other stakeholders inside this premier Freeport signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) at the All Hands Beach Resort on Friday.
According to SBMA Chairman and Administrator Rolen C. Paulino, the sea turtle nest preservation and coral garden nursery construction is in partnership with DENR’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), PNP Regional Maritime Unit 3, Brighterday Subic Ltd. Inc., and the Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative.
“The SBMA aims to restore balance in our ecosystem, which will also be beneficial to our tourism industry. We want to preserve the wildlife inside the Subic Bay Freeport while maintaining the area as the number one tourist destination in Central Luzon,” he said.
He said that All Hands Beach Resort is one of the tourist destinations in Subic Freeport that has maintained a good balance between tourism and eco-conservation. The top agency official said that his first mandate was to clean the Boardwalk Area.
“It is not just the responsibility of the agency to clean and preserve the ecosystem of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. This should also be the responsibility of the various stakeholders here,” he cited.
PENRO Zambales Director Marife L. Castillo said that the month of May is the Month of the Ocean and what better way to celebrate the month than to establish a coral garden nursery. The garden is a coral augmentation project that aims to proliferate corals within an area.
She said that the agency will provide assistance in monitoring and managing marine turtle hatcheries, solicit active participation of stakeholders in the project, rehabilitate degraded marine turtle habitats by enhancing recovery of mangroves and coral reefs, and installation of a wildlife enforcement officer.
Brighterday Subic Ltd. Inc., the company that owns and operates the All Hands Beach Resort has collaborated with the SBMA and the DENR in the implementation of the marine turtle nesting site project inside its resort.
Brighterday Chairman Mark Dayrit said that the resort has already released around 8,000 sea turtle hatchlings since it opened in 2012. Under the MOA, the company will ensure the vigilant monitoring of pawikan sightings and coral augmentations.
Dayrit added that the company will also provide logistical support to the SBMA Harbor Patrol in the conduct of maintenance and protection activities.
Meanwhile, Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative is set to conduct baseline assessment and monthly monitoring of reef buds. The cooperative will spearhead the actual conduct of monitoring, maintenance and protection of the site of the coral nursery garden.
Meanwhile, Regional Maritime Unit 3 chief Police Col. Fernando L. Cunanan Jr. said that aside from their usual mandate as police officers, part of their duty is to protect the environment.
He said that his unit has arrested thousands for illegal poaching, and 30 people involved in the illegal trade of wildlife. The official said they cannot do this without the help of the community, citing that to protect the community needs the involvement of each and every one.
The signing ceremony included the coastal cleanup drive wherein “Scubasureros” pick up trash in the waters near All Hands Beach Resort. (Dante M. Salvaña)