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Massive underwater cleanup in Siargao

Manila Bulletin
UNDERWATER CLEANUP — Volunteer divers clear the reef off San Benito, Siargao Island in Surigao del Sur of dozens of starfish called ‘crown of thorns’ which can eat up as much as 6 square meters of coral a year. It is part of the underwater cleanup dubbed ‘Siargao Shore It Up’ held last week by the Metro Pacific Investment Corp. in cooperation with the Siargao Tourism Development Council and the local governments. (Courtesy of Jun Lao)
Surigao City – After the series of typhoons that passed the so-called “Paradise Island” of Siargao in Surigao del Norte, volunteer divers stormed the island and conducted massive underwater cleanup of coral gardens and diverse marine life.
Initially, volunteer divers removed crowns on thorns (COTs) in San Benito area in Siargao Island, to ensure the sustainable growth of coral gardens in the islands’ nine towns.
San Benito area is being promoted as an emerging dive spot in Siargao, in addition to being a surfing haven in the Caraga Region.
The underwater cleanup is part of the “Siargao Shore It Up”, a comprehensive marine and coastal environment program to promote ecotourism and livelihood activities.
The undertaking is a private-public partnership spearheaded by the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) in collaboration with the municipality of Del Carmen, the province of Surigao Del Norte and the Siargao Tourism Development Council (STDC).
The environmental program, which started last week also included the first Siargao Mangrove Marathon to raise awareness in preserving the 4,100-hectare mangrove forest of Del Carmen town alone, one of the Philippines’ biggest.
At least 14,000 hectares of mangrove plantations are currently located in Siargao island, said provinces’ Tourism Officers Art Cruje.
All local government unit (LGU) officials are also simultaneously spearheading in the massive coastal clean up as volunteer divers are also undergoing underwater clean up.
The mangrove forest is also being tapped by the MPIC conglomerate as a center for offsetting carbon footprint emissions to help mitigate the impact of climate change in the Philippines.
The first of its kind in the country, carbon-offsetting is a global innovative approach in reducing carbon footprint caused by combustible forms of energy.
“I am glad that several volunteer divers are here to help us in the underwater clean up,” stressed Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol F. Matugas.
She further stressed that this activity is a continuing program and urged Siargaonons to closely participate. “After all this will benefit all Siargaonons,” added the provincial governor.

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