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MANILA, Philippines – Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (PSE:SCC) pledges support for the declaration of Semirara Island’s two near-shore sites as marine protected areas (MPAs) or marine reserves.
The campaign is headed by Caluya local government unit. The concerned marine areas are under protection and conservation programs by local ordinances, communities, or national laws to hamper disruptive human activity.
Siliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environment Management (SUAKCREM) also recognized the Barangays Alegria and Tinogboc-located sites as probable MPAs. SUAKCREM is a leading organization for marine and terrestrial research.
In 2015, SUAKCREM conducted a biological survey in the marine environment of Semirara Island. The team was led by Dr. Angel C. Alcala, National Scientist, and SMPC.
Victor A. Consunji, SMPC President and Chief Operating Officer, stated that before the research commencement, the island’s marine diversity was not booked. The team also eyed conducting an independent study to address assumptions and concerns on Semirara Island’s environmental disturbance.
SUAKCREM study revealed that the area has a high fish biomass and concentration. In addition, the reefs were found comprising an all-encompassing live hard coral coverage. Nonetheless, the team stated that siltation and fishing activities may have affected certain sites. The good news is the possible recovery of the sites if isolated from heavy fishing.
In line with the recent research, SMPC eyes to meet its host community and local government unit to coordinate on bearing on the campaign for marine conservation.
On the two sites, the company has also guaranteed to stock giants clams again once the areas are legally considered MPAs. The company has Marine Hatchery Laboratory in the island that breeds and reseeds giant clams.
Around 40,000 of its 160,000 giant clams were reseeded in Tabunan Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is distant from its Narra and Molave mine sites by two to four kilometers. Alternatively, another batch of 75 was provided in Barangay Semirara’s near-shore site.
Biodiversity enrichment is provided by giant clams for they attract smaller marine biota, fishes, and corals. These also help clean the area for the clams sip water and release it back to the sea in a cleaner form.
Nonetheless, IUCN Red List of Endangered Species registered the giant clams due to heavy fishing.
Semirara has the exclusive rights to develop, explore, and extract the largest mine for coal in the Philippines, particularly in Semirara Island of Antique. The company produces 90 percent of the country’s coal supply. Its power industry coal share is around 30 percent.