DUMAGUETE CITY, Nov. 28 The Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) of the provincial government of Negros Oriental is recommending that an ocular inspection be done in Tambobo Bay and other areas in Siaton town to determine the presence of the deadly Crown of Thorns starfish.
ENRDs Manric Barillo, coastal resources management coordinator, said the proposed survey of other areas in Siaton town will help ascertain whether this particular type of starfish has already spread to other coral reefs, particularly in Tambobo Bay where an outbreak was reported in the mid-1990s.
In the past three weeks, more than 13,000 crown of thorns starfish had been collected, initially by private divers, resort owners and local fishermen at Barangay Siit in Siaton, which had prompted the ENRD to coordinate with the town and village councils for a night dive to conduct an ocular inspection.
Several volunteers from the public and private sectors, including scuba divers and fishermen, who went on a night dive last Wednesday had collected only a little over 200 starfish, most of them in the juvenile stage. However, the following day, more than 1,000 starfish were physically removed from the same coral reefs in a repeat dive.
While Barillo is saying that a study is still needed to determine an infestation, he recommends that Tambobo Bay be surveyed to prevent a spread of the starfish that preys on coral polyps and, if allowed to multiply in large numbers, would endanger the corals.
We encourage people from Tambobo Bay, part of the management committee, to participate in the survey at the Tambobo marine reserve, Barillo said.
Barillo also emphasized the need for collaboration between local officials, government agencies, resort owners, fishermen and local communities to establish a sustainable monitoring and action plan to protect the provinces coral reefs, whether they are located in marine protected areas or not. (PNA) LAP/FFC/JFP