The Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) of Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS) initiated the first ever “Dap-ag Kapalit Bugas” Program last January 20, 2022 in Maasim, Sarangani Province in an effort to combat the ongoing Crown of Thorns (COT) starfish outbreaks in SBPS.
This Program aims to contain the damage brought by COT starfish, which are known coral predators, by tapping on the aid of local communities.
Community volunteers were first oriented on the proper manner of collection to avert the hazard of being pricked by the COT's venomous spines.
They were then encouraged to collect 300 COTs in exchange for a 25 kgs sack of rice.
Participants from Barangay Tinoto in Maasim, many of which were women, managed to gather a total of 11,275 COTs.
In recognition of their efforts, the PAMO distributed 42 sacks of rice to 30 recipient families residing in Tinoto together with the Local Government Unit of Maasim.
“We are delighted that most of our volunteers are women. This means the women are strong assets in environmental protection and conservation, especially with issues that needs to be resolved with urgency and active participation,” newly installed Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Sarangani Maria Elvira Lumayag said during her speech.
“We are expecting to collect at least 75,000 COTs from the“Dap-ag Kapalit Bugas” program. To date, our combined efforts already collected a total of 51,491 COTs in the whole seascape. These efforts shall be continuous until our seas are free from the threats brought by these COTs,” PASU Joy Ologuin said in an interview.
SBPS has been experiencing COT outbreaks since November 2021 but its effects are being mitigated due to the combined efforts from community volunteers and partner agencies. | With report and photos from PAMO-SBPS