Southeast Asian Coral Reefs - Contributions For Management

Contributions For Management

The state of the coral reefs in the Philippines and Indonesia are depleting with every blink of an eye. It is to no one’s surprise that the Philippines have lost more than 80% since the 1920s. In Indonesia it is a little better due to the some drastic actions made by the government. On December 6, 2002 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$33 million loan in order to save what is the rest of these important organisms. Over fishing, illegal fishing methods, and overpopulation have all contributed to the decline of the coral reefs both in the Philippines and Indonesia. Along with the loan the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project (Phase II), the second part of a three phase plan has given us all hope in restoring coral reefs in this part of the region. The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries will oversee the whole entire project with a due date of June 30, 2009. If it all goes according to plan the fishing industry will be the benefited the most.

However, government action is not always necessary to manage reefs. When the community dependent on the resources provided by coral works together to save and restore the fish population, the results can be very good. The community managed reefs of Apo Island, located in the southern Philippines, known worldwide for its success. The waters around Apo Island are home to about 650 species of fish and 400 species of corals. The waters of Apo Island were not always this full of life. Fishing is the major occupation on the island, and even those who do not fish, rely on the catch for their protein. So when a fisherman's catch began shortening, after years of unregulated fishing, it was very easy for them to resort to destructive methods of fishing,such as blast fishing and cyanide fishing, to get by. These methods almost led to the end of the already dwindling fish stocks. The community began, through education and widespread involvement, the process of making these practices socially unacceptable. People began patrolling the waters in a small area with the intention of allowing fish to flourish and repopulate and then spill over into areas that had been fished out. This informal establishment of a sanctuary was first met with a lot of resistance, eventually though, after seeing the obvious improvements, the island community and local council were able to formalize the sanctuary in 1985, three years after it started. This formalization extended the sanctuary to water surrounding the island up to 500 meters from the shore and declaring a portion a no-take fish sanctuary.

To manage the coral reefs effectively to preserve what is left of the beautiful natural resource, individual people must unite. If the marine ornamentals trade is to successfully turn around and begin to sustain more live fish, certain people must perform their jobs to the fullest. Firstly, there if lobbyists are responsible about the issue, they will provide healthy animals, maintain healthy reefs, sustain reef animal populations, and adequately compensate fishing communities for their efforts. Also, responsible industry operators must minimize animal mortality and habitat impacts and focus on animal health and quality collection practices. The problem with this method, though, is that merely trust and word of mouth aren't enough. If we are to legitimately stop depleting the coral reefs in Southeast Asia, we must set international standards.

Read more about this topic:  Southeast Asian Coral Reefs

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