GNPower, LGU launch ‘Scubasurero’ underwater clean-up initiative

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A local public-private partnership best practice emanated from GNPK’s effort of organizing Scubasura with LGU Kauswagan and the Philippine Coast Guard. (Photo: J.Banque/HRS Media)

KAUSWAGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE — A collaboration between GNPower Kauswagan (GNPK) Ltd. Co. , the local government unit (LGU) and the Philippine Coast Guard here has resulted to the successful launch of “Scubasurero Underwater Clean-up” on Saturday highlighting the commitment to help ensure marine life in this northern Mindanao town is protected. 

GNPK is a coal-fired power plant situated in barangays Tacub and Libertad serving Mindanao.

A 15-person team composed of scuba divers and free divers from GNPK and the LGU Kauswagan participated in the event that took place approximately 3 kilometers from the coast of Kauswagan as part of the continued efforts on coral restoration in the area.

The activity was also done for the continuing observance and clean-up efforts of World Oceans Day. 

Marine debris that harm coral reefs are taken out by volunteers including trash and plastics that are tangled on coral branches. The underwater activity was aimed to clean up corals growing in the area and their associated ecosystems.

In Kauswagan, divers have earlier discovered a reef edge or underwater cliff running vertically from shallow to deep areas which drops off into a much deeper area. The wall is filled with coral colonies. 

According to a 2014 report from the Asian Development  Bank (ADB), the Philippines is home to some 500 species of scleractinian or ‘stony’ corals — 12 species have been considered endemic. The country has a coral reef area of 26,000 square kilometers, the second largest in Southeast Asia.

According to Eric Pagaling, Environment Manager of GNPower, ‘Scubasurero’ is the beginning of a long-term partnership between the company and the local government in taking care of the environment.

“Today we started our first underwater clean-up in partnership with LGU Kauswagan and the Philippine Coast Guard. Scubasurero aims to recover trash from the coral reefs as we know they significantly damage marine life. GNPower is committed to do this long-term,” said Pagaling.

This initiative is the first of a planned series of cleanup efforts under the project and is open to volunteer divers who are willing to help.

“We will continue to do this and we are open to any volunteers, scuba divers or free divers, who are willing to help and join us,” he added.

Meanwhile, the LGU ensures that the marine sanctuary remains protected from violators by establishing Task Force Seaborne using patrol boats guarding the area.

“Mayor Rommel Arnado created Task Force Seaborne primarily to protect our seas. So far, the community is cooperating and this contributes to the restoration and protection of marine life here,” said Rondo Basco, Code Enforcers Head of Kauswagan Seaborne Patrol.

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) and Municipal Tourism Office likewise continue to put up policies and measures to protect marine life while promoting eco-tourism at the same time. 

The Philippine Coast Guard supports the LGU’s Seaborne Patrol which guards a 70-hectare marine protected sanctuary in the Municipality of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. (Photo: J.Banque/HRS Media)

Pagaling added that GNPower has always been committed to support the LGU in the development and promotion of eco-tourism in the area. 

The seas of Kauswagan is recovering and has since been protected from illegal forms of fishing activities including dynamite fishing, cyanide, and “dukdok,” a manner of fishing by breaking the corals. Coral colonies have been damaged due to bad practices in the past. It takes several years for corals to grow and restore.

An LGU-managed marine protected sanctuary covering approximately 37 hectares of municipal waters allows fish and marine life to continue to flourish. The LGU aims to boost local tourism by promoting activities related to underwater restoration and exploration such as Scubasurero.

The United Nations marked every 8th of June as World Oceans Day with this year’s theme focusing on “innovation for a sustainable ocean.” The observance serves as a reminder of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. At the same time, the annual event seeks to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

As part of educating Kauswaganons and the general public on the need to protect marine life, this local public-private partnership will undertake steps to inform fisher folks and tourists on best ways to fish, enjoy, and preserve coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems.

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