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Alarming crown of thorns return in Southern Leyte

SLT1268 June 08-14, 2024

In the recently concluded Ocean Month celebration at Liloan, Southern Leyte, concerns were raised about the outbreak of crown of thorns starfish or dap-ag in Panaon Island.

The crown of thorns (COTs) destroy and eats the coral reefs. Adult crown-of-thorns starfish spawn during summer months, which can release millions of eggs. Southern Leyte has reefs that are part of the world’s 50 priority reefs, known to mitigate climate change. In the province’ Panaon Island, vast coral reefs exist which are rich in biodiversity, as documented by Oceana, an international organization that promotes ocean conservation.

The Liloan local government also recently participated in the 11-day extraction operation surrounding Tagbak Marine Park.
Ryan Tomol, one of the founders of the Dap-ag Boys, emphasized unity in safeguarding the coral reefs. He said that we are to be united in our common goal to protect and save our coral reefs.

“If the coral reefs collapse, about 80 percent of our ocean will be affected,” Tomol further said, adding that one of their strategies in their information drive is educating fisherfolk about the importance of coral reefs in the ocean.

Meanwhile, Oceana is advocating the bill that aims to declare Panaon Island as a protected seascape under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act or RA 11038. The proposed Panaon Island Protected Seascape (PIPS) aims to encompass an area of 61,204 hectares, spanning across multiple municipalities in Southern Leyte.

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