Ecologist: Social marketing, “intervention” for coral reefs
TAGBILARAN CITY - Saving the seas and consequently saving coral reefs seemed to be the order of the day when RARE conservation organization and stakeholders mounted last week the “Uniting The Country: Uniting The Reefs” conference with emphasis on social marketing campaign.
The conference held at Metro Center Hotel aptly aims “to bring together the key architects, influencers and champions in the 12 sites to share stories, celebrate success and chart the next part of their journey as the country’s conservation leaders,” said the organizers.
In an exclusive interview, Secretary Neric Acosta, presidential adviser on environmental protection stressed that social marketing is not only a powerful tool for awareness campaign but an “intervention” to answer the “why” for the stakeholders.
Acosta, former solon of Bukidnon province but traces roots here and now general manager, Laguna Lake Development Authority who graced the event, also agrees it is a form of strategy of “winning the hearts and minds” of the stakeholders, saying there’s no better way than to involve the community in conservation efforts.
In his column published in an international magazine, Acosta called for sustainability even as he acknowledged that “across the world marine ecosystems are under growing threat from overfishing and pollution.” Citing a study of Global Footprint Network that “Philippines is one of the few countries that has reached ecological overshoot.”
It is a situation in which a “country already overly straining its natural resource base” that caused coral reefs bleached and also resulted to only 5% of them (corals) to be in excellent condition and fish stocks diminished, he said.
For her part, Vice-Mayor Nuevas Tirol Montes, who graced and welcomed the guests, said that Mabaw Reef off the city is now alive with teeming fishes following a year or two of care. She said that it’s important to put back the pristine condition of the Cainggit Beach, a stone throw away from where she resides. She said she used to enjoy and feel the sand deposits in Cainggit but now they’re gone. “I hope with conservation of reefs we’ll be able to bring back the supply of fish and sand.” She said that the city is campaigning hard for a “balance and green environment.”
Mr. Patrick Schwab, chief advisor of the German cooperation agency which also assisted the RARE, an international conservation organization hastened to say that stakeholders should do what is necessary and put climate change adaptation measures. Marine Biologist Stuart “Estong” Green, RARE country director, expressed gratitude for the participants of the affair even as he urged everyone to take share of the conservation fellows who just completed their studies.
During the conference each of the 12 Conservation Fellows shared their findings and lessons learned in caring their respective conservation projects during a separate session of the venue with K-chairpersons Rocky Tirona and Hon Donato Marcos with Lorna Calumpang moderating, steering sluster 1; K-chairpersons Dr. Walter Salzer and Ms. Indira Windmann and moderator Pablo Rojas, Jr. - cluster 2; K-chairpersons Dr. Perry Aliño and Prof. Mike Atrigenio with moderator Roquelito Mancao – cluster 3.
The conservation fellows are Catherine Demesa of Tinambac, Camarines Sur; Vincent A. Dueñas, Cortes, Surigao Sur; Jovenal G. Edquilag, Tagbilaran City, Bohol; Armando O. Gaviola, Hinunangan, Southern Leyte; Ruby L. Mendones, Bacacay, Albay; Lludeza M. Quesada, Island Garden City of Samal; Sheryll C. Tesch, Boljoon, Cebu; Anabele B. Barillo, Amlan, Negros Oriental; Renante B. Cempron, Inabanga, Bohol; Dag Hjalmar Navarrete, San Francisco, Southern Leyte; Marybeth A. Rita, Lanuza, Surigao del Sur; and Cherry M. Ravelo, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
During the two-day activity, Mascots, who are among the “social marketing tools to raise the awareness and local pride of coastal communities in local resources to change the behaviour of fishers and community residents towards protection and conservation of no-take zones,” made visits to different schools --- Taloto and Ubujan Elementary Schools, Victoriano D. Tirol Advanced Learning Center (VDT-ALC) in Taloto and the Holy Name University (HNU) Grade School Department in Dampas --- for schoolchildren and interact with them. The mascots’ visits is hoped to “help the pupils remember the importance of protecting coral reef areas for their families’ food supply and a healthier marine environment. The campus interactions are a fun way of integrating lessons in science and environmental protection.”
Mabi, a clownfish mascot for mabaw reefs in Taloto and Ubujan, was joined by Tilang, a giant clam or taclobo from Cantilan, Surigao del Sur; Rabita, a white spotted rabbitfish or danggit from Cortes, also in Surigao del Sur; Pitz, a splendid red spooner crab or sipitan from Hinunangan in Southern Leyte; Booky, a thumbprint emperor fish or bukhawon from Bacacay, Albay; Agcaton, a leopard coral grouper or lapu-lapu from Tinambac, Camarines Sur; and Meloy, a panther grouper or melo-melo from Inabanga, Bohol.
Mabi was also with friends Cora Plaskera, a fire coral or gasang from Boljoon, Cebu; Lappy, a red coral grouper or lapu-lapu from Amlan, Negros Occidental; Fredo, an orange clownfish or bantay botbot from San Francisco, Southern Leyte; Pipay/Pipoy, a Reeve’s scallop or paypay from the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; and Loblob, a painted rock lobster or banagan from Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.
RARE’s Pride Campaign Program is a two-year initiative in each of the 12 sites in coordination with local government units and other institutional partners. The campaigns are aimed to reduce illegal and destructive fishing activities in marine sanctuaries and consequently increase the coral cover and fish population. “RARE, an international conservation organization with its Philippine office located in Bohol, organized the event, with funding support from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in coordination with the Department of Education Tagbilaran City Division, and the City Government of Tagbilaran.”