With the observance of Month of the Ocean (MOO) this May 2022, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 conducts different activities in support to the month-long celebration aligned to its theme: “Protect and Restore Ecosystems and Biodiversity.”

One of those activities was the conduct of a pre-survey and monitoring of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) occurrence in the portion of 300 hectares Coral Garden in Jawili, Tangalan, Aklan on May 5, 2022 in collaboration with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of the municipality of Tangalan, Aklan.

The COTS is a sea star named for the spines that cover its body and arms. It is also known to permanently damage coral reefs, and scientists consider it a species of concern –not because its numbers are too low but because locally high numbers can threaten other species.

Upon the conduct of survey and monitoring, the certified divers from DENR Aklan and LGU Tangalan spotted numbers of COTS population in the area, wherein twenty (20) pieces of this spiky predator were collected.

With this, the DENR – PENRO Aklan scheduled a mass extraction of COTS in the said area, today, May 24, 2022. The activity will highlight the MOO celebration 2022, which aims to understand the effects of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystem and take action by providing solutions in the degradation of marine biodiversity and ecosystem. The team will be composed of divers from DENR Aklan, LGU Tangalan and Office of the Provincial Agriculture.

 “These spiky predators should be removed to prevent damage to our coral reefs. This Month of the Ocean (MOO) we should value the importance of coral reefs, because once a reef’s ecosystem failed, it will be hard for us to restore it,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

 Corals are archetypal ecosystem engineers –they provide the foundation for the diversity and abundance of all the species in coral reef ecosystems.

 Scaling up of Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Program with the following activities (1) Development of Bio-diversity Friendly Enterprises; (2) Maintenance and Protection of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems; and (3) Coral Reef and Sea Grass Assessment, is one of the priority programs lay down by DENR Acting Secretary Jim O Sampulna.