Makati—(PHStocks)—Integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC, PSE: SCC) has pledged to support the Caluya local government unit’s campaign to declare two near-shore sites in Semirara Island as marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPA).
MPAs are coastal or marine areas placed under conservation or protection regimes by communities, local ordinances or national laws to restrict human activity.
Located in Barangays Alegria and Tinogboc, the two near-shore sites were also identified as possible MPAs by the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management (SUAKCREM), a leading marine and terrestrial research organization.
Led by National Scientist Dr. Angel C. Alcala and with the support of SMPC, SUAKCREM conducted a biological survey of Semirara Island’s marine environment in 2015.
“Prior to this research, marine diversity around the island was undocumented. We wanted an independent study to help resolve concerns and allegations of environmental degradation in Semirara Island,” said SMPC President and COO Victor A. Consunji.
According to the SUAKCREM study, “Contrary to expectation for mining areas, the reefs surveyed has extensive coverage of live hard coral cover and relatively high fish biomass and density.”
However, the research team also noted that certain sites may have been affected by siltation and fishing activities but these sites have the potential to recover if “strictly protected from heavy fishing”.
Following SUAKCREM’s recommendation, SMPC plans to meet with its host community and the LGU to determine how best to support their marine conservation campaign.
SMPC is also pledging to restock giant clams on the two sites once these are legally declared as MPAs. The company breeds and reseeds giant clams through its Marine Hatchery Laboratory in Semirara Island.
Of the 160,000 giant clams it has bred, around 40,000 have been reseeded in Tabunan Marine Sanctuary which is 2 to 4 kilometers away from the company’s Molave and Narra mine sites. Another 75 were also reintroduced in the near-shore sites of Barangay Semirara.
Giant clams promote biodiversity enhancement where they live as they attract corals, fishes and smaller marine biota. These giant clams also clean their environment when they sip in seawater for food and then release clean, clear water back to the sea.
However, overfishing of giant clams have placed this marine species in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.