To continue our efforts in contributing to the coral reef recovery in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary (AIMS), more reef fish recovery tools, in the form of fish habitats, were deployed last March 10, 2016. These simple dome-shaped fish habitat modules were fabricated and designed by the Dive Rangers and carpenters of Apo Island made up of limestone rocks available along the shores of the island, cemented together. This design was modified from the fish habitats originally made by the local community and marine protected area management body of Calag-calag Marine Sanctuary in Ayugon in Negros Oriental, while rehabilitating their dynamite blasted reef in the years 2003 – 2005 (Raymundo et al. 2007). The fish habitats deployed in AIMS can assist in the reef fish recovery process by increasing the habitat complexity and providing more space for reef fishes to hide. To recall, the coral cover of Apo Island Marine Sanctuary was once excellent (to 75% live hard coral cover) before it was decimated to less than 1 percent after typhoon Pablo hit the area in December 2012 (Reboton 2014). Reef fish abundance and biomass also declined four to five times compared to a year 2008 baseline (Maypa 2012, Maypa et al. 2016).
This activity was implemented by Silliman University Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (SUIEMS) in partnership with the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (AIPLS-DENR), the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF) and UNICO Conservation Foundation, under the project, “Coral reef Recovery in Typhoon-Damaged Reefs.” We also had an excellent support and participation from the Apo Island fisherfolk, resort and dive sectors, namely, Liberty’s Lodge and Paul’s Diving in Apo Island and Harold’s Diving Center from Dumaguete City. A snorkeler tourist from Germany, Stephan Müller, also assisted us.
Photos by: M.R. Baird and A.P. Maypa