US, Philippine troops again partner to install artificial reefs

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — United States and Philippine military personnel have partnered for a second time to install artificial habitat reefs in Maragondon, Cavite.

Together with local government representatives, non-governmental organizations and local residents, the US and Philippine troops installed a total of 60 jackstone-type artificial habitat reefs off the coast.

In August, the group also installed 30 artificial habitat reefs in the coastal area of Calatagan, Batangas. Coral will eventually cover the sunken structure, revitalizing marine life and improving fishing livelihoods in the coastal communities of Cavite.

The project, named Operation Pamamalakaya, included support by more than 500 personnel from the Philippine Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, DV Boer Farm, Magsasaka, municipality of Maragondon and Cavite local government and residents, as well as US service members.

More than 40 military divers and barge crew members from the Philippine Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command, and US Armed Forces assisted in the deployment of the artificial habitat reefs. 

“(Operation Pamamalakaya])aims to protect, develop, conserve and promote biodiversity in the marine environment for sustainable fisheries in the area, including adjacent fishing grounds,” said Dexter Villamin of DV Boer Farm.

AFP SOCOM commander Maj. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo said Philippine coral reefs are threatened by pollution and destructive fishing techniques like the illegal use of explosives, trawling methods and general overfishing.

“To address this reality, there needs to be an international approach between governments and NGOs dedicated to preserving and protecting these coral reefs, which are a natural treasure,” Pabayo said.

“Marine biodiversity is vital for a sustainable ecosystem. It’s wonderful to be able to assist in an endeavor that helps preserve this environment for generations to come,” said Maj. Ryan Bone, a participating US Armed Forces diver.

The US continues to provide support to Filipino communities with marine conservation projects.

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