In its bid to promote ecological integrity and clean and healthy environment through the La Union #KalikasanNaman campaign, the Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU) SCUBA Diving Team assisted in the successful deployment of 70 units of Artificial Reef (AR) on April 22 to 28, 2021 in the coastal Municipalities of Balaoan, Bacnotan and San Juan, La Union .
The PGLU SCUBA Diving Team is composed of the Provincial Government – Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO); Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Office; and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist – Fishery Division.
They were joined by coastal municipalities of Balaon, Bacnotan and San Juan (BALBASAN); and the SCUBA Diving Team of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Conservation and Development Division and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.
To sustain La Union’s living shorelines and in pursuant to Republic Act No. 7160, Local Government Units (LGUs) shall share with the National Government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their territorial jurisdiction, the PG-ENRO spearheaded the fabrication of 70 units of AR in 2020 following the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Tripod, a concrete type of AR that was piloted in the Region more than a decade ago.
In La Union, BFAR in partnership with different LGUs have already deployed around 445 AR units from 2016 to date.
Prior to AR deployment, site suitability assessment was done on March 29-31, 2021 by the PGLU and DENR SCUBA Diving Teams to locate and validate proposed deployment sites using both scientific and practical methods for the selection of suitable sites in the coastal waters of BALBASAN.
Further, during the 1st day of deployment, community education and public awareness were conducted to ensure its safety.
Moving forward, Bantay Dagat committed to monitor the project. Likewise, concerned LGUs were advised through their Fishery Coordinators to designate through Resolution the AR site as a fish sanctuary to safeguard the same from destructive fishing.
AR are structures built of natural or man-made materials like scrap tires, metals, concrete, bamboo and non-biodegradable synthetics such as polypropylene rope, submerged or placed on the seabed to emulate some functions of a natural reef like protecting, regenerating, concentrating, and/or enhancing biodiversity of living marine resources thereby addressing food security.
In order to ensure the benefits of deploying artificial reefs while maintaining the integrity of coastal resources, extensive community planning, monitoring and evaluation shall be done before and after.
Moreover, monitoring reports on the impacts are important components for future decision-making regarding establishment of additional artificial reef sites.
By: Grace Libong, GPC-ENRO