Legazpi bans fishing in damaged reef

The City Government of Legazpi has declared the three-hectare Demson Reef, locally known as “Pulang Buya,” in Albay Gulf as off-limits to fishermen.

Albay Gulf. Photo by Stephen Poot Guanzon
Albay Gulf. Photo by Stephen Poot Guanzon
This marks the start of rehabilitation works on the 1,200-square-meter coral reef destroyed by a Vietnamese cargo vessel that ran aground last month at the city’s shallow reef, Jess Kallos, City Agriculture Office chief, said Thursday.

Kallos said the “no fishing” order is just temporary though it would deprive hundreds of fishermen of daily fish catch.

In an interview, he said the order will give their office sufficient time to conduct a careful study and plan out rehabilitation measures that would restore the damages wrought by the cargo vessel when it ran aground at the Pulang Buya’s shallow reef, four kilometers from the city shorelines.

He said the Hoang Ang Shipping, the owner of the Ocean 3 — a Vietnamese cargo vessel, has earlier paid PHP4-million to the city government as settlement for the damages it caused to the city’s coral reef.

The cargo vessel, with 4,532 gross tonnage and manned by 21 Vietnamese crewmen, was reportedly departing from the city port after unloading tons of imported rice from Vietnam when it ran aground and ravaged the city’s affected coral reef.

Kallos said the rehabilitation plan also includes an alternative livelihood program for hundreds of displaced fishermen that would not be allowed to catch fish at the three-hectare marine reserve.

He said there are at least 937 registered fishermen here affected by the “no fishing” order.

Meanwhile, City Mayor Noel Rosal directed the city agriculture office to draw up a comprehensive three-year program that will rehabilitate the coral reefs and provide alternative livelihood to the affected fisher folk.

Rosal also ordered the putting up of a permanent marker surrounding the three-hectare shallow reef to prevent sea vessels to cruise in this shallow waters of Albay Gulf.

Aside from the city “Bantay Dagat” patrol, the city will also employ additional men to patrol the marine reserve on a 24/7 basis. (PNA)