Coral reef fish populations increase in Pilar, Sorsogon

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WWF coral reefs of pilar Sorsogon
WWF Philippines has noted that fish populations have increased in the municipality of Pilar, Sorsogon. Photo from WWF PH.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines has noted an increase in fish populations and target species that have returned to the protected coral reefs of Pilar, Sorsogon.

According to the recent study by WWF-Philippines with CBP Marine Services, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region V, and the Palompon Institute of Technology, the average biomass of the reef fishes in Pilar was almost double the reported amount during the last reef study in 2017. Average biomass is presented as the “expected total weight of fish over a given area” and was among the factors observed by the WWF study.

The number of target species of fish found in the reefs of Ticao-Burias Pass Protected Seascape (TBPPS) has also increased, reported by WWF in October 2020. A quarter of the reef fish off the coast of Pilar was found to be fusiliers and snappers, another marked improvement from the study conducted three years ago.

The waters of TBPPS are part of the municipality of Pilar located in the province of Sorsogon, Philippines. TBPPS is the site of impressive marine biodiversity and is home to vulnerable whale sharks, locally known as “butanding” and manta rays.

WWF notes that there have been small increases in biodiversity in the area since the Marine Protected Area (MPA) ordinance was put forward to conserve the reefs and ban the illegal fishing activity. However, the study reports that much of the physical structure of the reef still needs improvement and remains in poor condition despite the recovery of reef fish populations.

The WWF study recommended “coral transplanting and establishment of artificial reefs in damaged areas” to help the reef structure recover.

“The restoration of the beauty of the marine protected areas of Pilar and of the municipalities surrounding the Ticao-Burias Pass Protected Seascape will come as a big improvement to the biodiversity of this important region,” said WWF-Philippines Project Manager Jun Narvadez.

Conservation efforts to protect the marine creatures living in the oceans of the Philippines have not been hindered by the lockdown restrictions in place due to community quarantine enforced to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

WWF-Philippines maintains its daily whale shark monitoring operations, despite the temporary suspension of tourism activity in the TBPPS and has sighted 69 unique whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon’s waters since the start of the year.

Apo Reef Natural Park reported 29 hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green sea turtles thriving in the waters of Occidental Mindoro on August 31, 2020, nearly double the 15 recorded in 2019. The Protected Area Superintendent credits the improved number to decreased tourism activity due to the park’s temporary closure in line with the government directives for community quarantine.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to conservationists for the increase in Coral reef fish populations in Pilar, Sorsogon.

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Margo Hannah De Guzman Quadra
Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.