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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesTuesday, July 9, 2013
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IN APO ISLAND
Reef check to assess
storm damage starts

BY JUDY F. PARTLOW

The Greenpeace global environmental campaign organization will document and participate in a reef check at the world-renowned Apo Island in Negros Oriental to determine the extent of coral damage believed linked to climate change.

Ira Beau Baconguis, Philippine program manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said yesterday that they want to showcase Apo Island as one of the oldest marine reserves in the country and perhaps in the world.

Baconguis said Greenpeace will document the current state of Apo Island’s coral reefs after receiving reports of extensive damage caused by tropical storm Sendong in 2011 and typhoon Pablo in 2012.

Apo Island, a protected land and seascape in Central Philippines, was chosen as the launch site of the organization’s Ocean Defender program in the country due to its famous marine reserves and its successful resource management program.

Regular reef checks have since been undertaken by the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, in cooperation with Silliman University’s Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences and the Apo Island’s Protected Area Management Board.

Initial discovery showed that soft corals were badly damaged and resulted in degradation to some reefs in Apo Island.

Coral modules to help the rehabilitation of damaged reefs were already deployed by the PAMB and its local partners.

“Our role is to document what they are doing”, Baconguis said.

Greenpeace’s largest vessel, Esperanza, will be at Apo Island today for the program launch and other activities.

Baconguis said she is hopeful that, after a few weeks, they will be able to present the scientific analysis of the reef check, and initial observations during the three-day dive this week will be discussed in a press conference in Dumaguete City later this week.

Greenpeace will participate in the reef check that will include installation of more coral modules, doing transects, counting marine species and rehabilitation efforts and the deployment of buoys in marine reserves at Apo Island, she said.

The documentation will be linked to Greenpeace’s campaign on climate change, to encourage more movement globally to protect the current state of the oceans, Baconguis said.

Greenpeace initially visited the Philippines, including Apo Island, in 2006 as part of its defending the oceans global tour.* JFP

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