Monday Jul, 13 2020 11:21:08 PM

CENRO Kiamba highlights collaboration, conservation and protection of marine turtles

Climate Change/Environment • 09:15 AM Sat Jun 20, 2020
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By: 
Aileen D. Tenio/DENR Kiamba
Sea turtles run back to the wild while environment workers visit "pawikan center" (DENR photos)

KIAMBA, SARANGANI PROVINCE - In commemoration of the World Sea Turtles Day on June 16, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-12) through the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) of Kiamba announced that its collaborative efforts have improved the conservation of marine turtles.

As a proof, the CENRO and its partners managed to release more than 10,000 hatchlings back to their natural habitat during the first six months of this year as a result of efforts for the protection of this endangered species.

The increased number of nesting sites of marine turtle paved the way to the establishment of marine turtle hatchery and learning centers in Barangay Lumasal, Maasim and Barangay Kiambing in Maitum, this province.

“These conservation centers were established in 2016 with the support of the local government unit through the Municipal ENRO and other stakeholders as our partners,” said Forester Jessica C. Guilao, the chief of conservation and development section of CENRO Kiamba.

“The conservation centers have assigned pawikan technicians who were tasked to safe keep the turned over pawikan eggs until its release and rescue, tagged and release of stranded adult marine turtle,” she added.

Marine turtle, locally known as pawikan, is inserted with silver tag on its right flipper before its release to the ocean. It is like a tracking device that the reptile came from the Philippines.

Aside from safe keeping and rescue, the information, education and communication (IEC) activities are being done with the locals in these conservation centers.

“We are regularly visited by the local and foreign tourists and marine life lovers,” said Alejandra Sison, MENRO of Maasim.

“The center is also an eco-tourism spot and channel where we educate and gain positive response from the people who are interested to learn and know our advocacy on marine turtles,” she remarked.

Four of the seven marine turtle species are found along the coastal areas of Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum (MAKIMA).

The Green Sea (Chelonia mydas) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the usual species seen while Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) are found once in a while.

With the intense IEC campaigns done, residents in communities along coastal barangays voluntarily report incidents of rescue and nesting sites of pawikan.
It has been a practice that calls the attention of law enforcers like the Philippine National Police whenever there are incidents of pawikan meat and egg poaching.

“In the municipality of Maitum, the Old Poblacion hatchery was improved with Barangay Kiambing as the center of conservation,” said Nannette R. Nacional, MENRO of Maitum.

“We have three pawikan technicians here. They monitor all the coastal barangays from Pinol to Kiambing and coordinate with the barangay officials on stranded pawikan and nesting sites,” she added.

Conservation programs are upheld in the coastal areas of MAKIMA which are part of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS).

Increased public awareness has also resulted to the conduct of coastal clean-up by the communities involved, spearheaded by the barangay officials.

Clean coasts provide favourable area for nesting.

Moreover, the incidents of stranded dead marine turtle, poaching of meat, shell and eggs gradually reduced in the recent years.

The CENRO of Kiamba, Ali M. Hadjinasser, PhD., lauded the efforts of the LGUs in the conservation and protection of pawikan.

In his message, CENRO Hadjinasser said: “We are grateful that our constituents, especially the LGUs are in full support of this endeavour.”

“I wish that we can also establish a pawikan center in the municipality of Kiamba. We have received reports that several nesting sites are found in Barangays Luma, Nalus, Suli, Tambilil and Datu Dani,” he added.

This year, the conservation centers will be turned over to the concerned LGUs while DENR will continuously provide technical assistance and monitoring.

He assured that CENRO Kiamba personnel will be more visible in the protected and conservation areas through the LAWIN Patrols and law enforcement monitoring to curb environmental crimes. (Aileen D. Tenio, Information Officer Designate) | Photos by Maria N. Tubera

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