BACOLOD CITY, NOVEMBER 22, 2007 (MALAYA) BY GILBERT BAYORAN  The marine conservation efforts at the 32,000- hectare marine sanctuary in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, got a boost with the introduction of an innovative way of coral reef regeneration and rehabilitation.

First-Step Coral, founded by a group of Filipino and American student graduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in partnership with the Global Coral Reef Alliance, introduced BioRock method at the marine sanctuary in Sagay, which aims to rehabilitate coral reef resources.

BioRock utilizes low-voltage DC currents to electrochemically deposit calcium on metallic meshes. These calcium rich substrates then promote coral growth rates up to five times and increase survivability by about 20 times during coral bleaching events.

Invented by Dr. Thomas Goreau, president of the United States-based Global Coral Reef Alliance, said solar panels, wind and tidal turbines are being used to power the BioRock system.

"These pioneering project in reef restoration and tidal energy development will make them focus not only of marine environmental education throughout Negros, but the model for use of tidal energy, a non polluting and renewable source of energy, and an innovative way of reef generation and restoration", Goreau said.

First-Step Coral is a public service project which brings together innovative and sustainable technologies that have the potential to radically alter coral reef rehabilitation worldwide. It won grand prize at the MIT 5th IDEAS Competition in May last year in the United States.

Sagay marine sanctuary has become a protective area through the efforts of Mayor Alfredo Maranon Jr. of Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

The 32,000-hectare marine sanctuary also covers three islets of Molocaboc Daku and Diot, as well as Matabas, which have a population of 6,000.

A 1.2-kilometer foot walk through the sea, connecting Molocaboc Daku and Diot, was constructed by Negros Occidental Governor Joseph Maranon. It disappears beneath the sea during high tide.

Massive mangrove reforestation, regeneration of corrals and marine habitat, and a strict ban on illegal fishing are among the conservation efforts practiced in the three islets, where 85 percents of its residents rely in fishing as a source of their livelihood.

Molocaboc Brgy. Capt. Antonio Pasaylo said the creation of artificial habitat, known as sea ranching which was introduced by Mayor Maranon, on the seabed by using tires and large stones, attract more fish to their miracle hole.

He said fishermen harvest about 80 kilos of fish in three to four months through sea ranching.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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