Results of the coastal research titled, “Coral Resource Assessment and Marine Debris Audit (CoReMar)” conducted by the McKeough Marine Center of Xavier University—Ateneo de Cagayan were presented to the concerned agencies, including the Port Management Office of Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro (PMO MO/C), and the LGUs of the coastal barangays (Macabalan, Gusa, and Bayabas) which were aimed to serve as springboard for plan of actions towards marine life preservation and protection.

The participants gathered on 06 November 2019 in N Hotel, Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City. The research results were presented to them per barangay, followed by an open forum every after the presentation of results. Fr. Mars Tan, SJ, Ph.D., the Director of XUMMC and CoreMar Project Team Leader encouraged the participants to comment and make suggestions since the protection of the marine ecosystem is everybody’s concern, as one city benefitting from the waters of Macajalar Bay.

All the subject barangays were having Marine Protected Areas (MPA). The researchers noted that most of the litters they found underwater across the three (3) barangays were plastic materials.

For Barangay Macabalan, there was a high number of fecal coliforms in the seawater within the jurisdiction of the barangay. The PMOs Environment Specialist, Core D. Suan, recommended to the LGU Macabalan to conduct water treatment, septic desludging, and/or sewage collection, like what the PMO MOC does. This is to ensure that wastes will be filtered out and will not reach the bodies of water.

Ample amount of seagrass is still present in the waters of Barangay Macabalan, for which the barangay officials and residents were encouraged to protect.

For Barangay Gusa, the researchers found out that corals and other marine resources were slowly diminishing within its Marine Protected Area (MPA). Future infrastructure developments were also seen to affect the said area. The researchers then posed a question to the LGU Gusa if they will rehabilitate the MPA or convert the same into other purposes. Amidst various notions from other participants, the Barangay Officials of Gusa stood firm to continue protecting whatever is left in the MPA.

Lastly for Barangay Bayabas, research showed that marine resources are still at substantial rates and are thriving well within their MPA. However, the increasing sediment plume brought about by river dredging activities nearby may later encroach the MPA. LGU Bayabas was urged to establish coordination among other LGU and concerned agencies to address this concern.

Also invited to the event were the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO), City Planning, among others. —by IMR Lam