Coral Restoration

Coral Restoration

Mabini, Batangas is popular to divers and snorkelers. The waters surrounding the area are teeming with marine life, plenty of corals and amazing diversity of fishes. The northwest shore of the Calumpang Peninsula, from Anilao to Bagalangit, is lined with local resorts that cater primarily to local tourists especially during weekends. There are close to 50 dive sites located in Bauan, Mabini and Tingloy Island frequented by the divers visiting and staying in Mabini and most, if not all, requires dive boats to access. Although the diving activity is giving a positive economic impact to the community, it has a negative impact to the environment. To maintain attractiveness of Mabini as a diving destination, the existing coral reefs has to be protected and a coral restoration program should be in place to restore corals damaged due to human activities and natural disasters. THE PROJECT
Set-up and installation of Coral Restoration Field Laboratory in Barangay Solo, Mabini, Batangas. The laboratory will serve as an underwater work station for trained volunteer divers to study the fluid dynamics of the area, study coral growth potential at Eco-MER units per depth and other scientific diving related to monitoring and coral restoration for Mabini. Metro Pacific Investments Corp., through its award-winning CSR project Shore It Up, shall
be the lead agency for the project while Eco-MER shall handle the training and all scientific related activities. The project is fully supported by the Municipality of Mabini, Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving and selected resorts and local organizations in Mabini.

Mission and Vision
Our marine environment is deteriorating at an ever accelerating pace due to various local to global disturbances, mainly as a result of human activities.
Eco-MER team was founded to promote the marine environment and ensure its sustainability through environmental education, scientific activities, restoration measures and sound use. We believe in investing our resources and efforts on guiding, encouraging and engaging “ocean users and lovers”, notably divers, in the promotion of our oceans and their precious natural resources. The purpose is to establish a wide range of activities in order to enhance environmental awareness and knowledge and develop the associated relevant skills. Eco-MER’s major mission is to disseminate knowledge in order to bring the general public, and particularly divers and ‘ocean stakeholders’, closer to the fascinating ocean, its wonders, importance to human existence, and vulnerability to human impact. We believe that raising public awareness via education is a key to the sound conservation and maintenance of sustainable oceans. To address this mission, we dedicate our efforts to providing technical-scientific solutions for restoration and ocean resource
enhancement, comprehensive training, and applied (research and conservation) projects.

The Eco-MER Concepts
The Eco-MER are module-based compounds assembled of two basic units that enable formation of diverse structural morphology of high architectural complexities. The two basic units are:

1. “Reef Modules” – reef-inspired structures, which imitate diverse natural coral-reef morphological patterns (see: Fig. 1 for some examples; it should be noted that we are working on developing new module shapes).
2. “Polygon modules” – Polygonal rugose structures (e.g. hexagons, pentagons etc.) with rough surfaces, which, on the one hand, provide carrying platforms for the “reef modules”, and, on the other hand, serves as the basic modular “building blocks” of the compound.  

Technical Description
The Eco-MER elements are all made of marine concrete characterized by two advanced features, exclusive to Eco-MER units, and which tremendously advance their ecological features (i.e. better larval attachment, higher survival rates of coral recruits and wider niche range for higher species diversity of benthic species), beyond any other commercial ARs. First, a unique ingredient, serves as concrete additive that optimizes the chemo physical traits of the structure (i.e. roughness and porosity), and a ‘Settlement-Enhancing Coating’ which significantly enhancing coral recruitment onto the Eco-MER units (Fig. 2). In addition, the ‘Polygon modules’ are patented (to be registered as a provisional patent) structures, which beyond serving as modular building blocks and carrying platforms, will provide wide substrates and shelters for enhanced recruitment of high-diversity of benthic sessile and motile species. 

The polygonal basic structures are used to form diverse compound shapes, from simple hemispheres (dome shapes) to highly complexed, multi-layered (e.g. dodecahedral grids) and irregular constructions. The ‘Polygon Modules’ can be provided in various sizes, but for most uses we recommend small unit sizes (~60 cm longest dimension) that can be handled fairly easily by divers with minimal support of lifting bags. The “reef modules” are a wide variety of shapes, which imitate the complex surfaces of fully-developed reef structures (Fig. 1). Despite the wide variety of the ‘reef module’ shapes, we try to keep them not larger than ~50cm in size (less than 50 kg) so that they can be handled by two divers. Note: The exact structure design of the Eco-MER compound, as well as the sizes and shapes of ‘Polygon Modules’, should consider the local flow regime, depth, maximum wave height of regional extreme storms (risk assessment for 20 years), national/company safety requirements and the project goals (reef restoration, recreation, fishery etc.).