Tourists urged to help save Boracay corals

Boracay, Aklan – Tourists must also contribute in preserving the coral reefs surrounding the country’s crown jewel,  Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.

“I just don’t want to be a tourist. I want to get involved in preserving Boracay,” said Christian Licursi, a 31-year-old British visitor.

On April 25, Licursi and his 21-year-old girlfriend Michelle Girourard from Canada volunteered to participate in the Coral REEFurbishment project.


Volunteers attach coral fragments as part of the Coral REEFurbishment project in Boracay. (Tara Yap)

Volunteers attach coral fragments as part of the Coral REEFurbishment project in Boracay. (Tara Yap)

The travelers took time out from swimming and strolling along the white sand beach to help attach coral fragments that were later installed by certified divers underwater.

“It’s essential to replenish the corals.  Otherwise, there would be no Boracay to come back to,” Licursi said.

A continuing weekend activity the Coral REEFurbishment project of the Boracay Foundation Inc., the local government of Malay and Pioneer Group Foundation Inc., aims to reverse the coral damage caused by the increasing number of tourists flocking to the island destination.

From merely 14,000 tourists in 1984, Boracay recorded 1.36 million arrivals in 2013.  By 2018, expected tourists are expected to swell to 2.7 million.

This is seen to bring more damage to Boracay’s coral reefs with more trash and more pollution from boats.

Citing a 2009 study conducted by Dr. Miguel Fortes of the University of the Philippines (UP Marine Science Institute), Malay Environmental Officer Al Lumagod said coral life has been reduced to 15 percent or even as low as 5 percent.

Lumagod said normal coral life should be at least 25 to 50 percent to be able to bring back natural flora and fauna.

Boracay Foundation Inc. Executive Director Pia Miraflores explained that the newly launched Boracay Coral REEFurbishment is a continuation of the Coastal Resource Management project launched almost five years ago.

Martina Spakowski, Pioneer Foundation executive director, said Coral REEFurbishment project fits perfectly in its environmental advocacy.

Spakowski said Pioneer Foundation donated at least 3,600 packs of Pioneer EpoxyClay Aqua for transplanting the corals underwater.

Allan Mirasol, group product manager of Republic Chemical Industries Inc., said the use of EpoxyClay Aqua has yielded higher results in successfully transplanting corals underwater and has no negative environmental effect.

Boracay Foundation Inc. has earlier tried other methods that were not as highly as successful including using bamboo rods and plastic cable ties.

Spakowski urged Boracay tourists to be part of the Coral REEFurbishment in three different ways – participate in the coastal cleanup by clearing the shoreline of trash; sign up to help attach coral fragments; and help transplant coral underwater (for certified divers only).