Dione Gino Lawa, barangay kagawad of Lago, said the COT infestation in Sarangani Bay has greatly affected not only the livelihood of the residents in the barangay but also the tourism in the coastal community.
“As barangay officials, among gi-depensahan pod diri is ang dap-ag makadaot sa tourists nga nagaligo, especially sa mga nagpuyo diri, ug labaw na sa atong kinaiyahan makadaot siya kay mukaon siya ug corals,” he said.
The COTs are well-known coral predators. When severe outbreaks occur, “they often exceed 1,000 individuals per hectare and are capable of destroying an entire reef system in a matter of weeks,” according to Living Oceans Foundation.
According to Lawa, residents of barangay Lago began to feel the immense COT infestation in their community in early March this year. Since then, he said the community has been conducting massive COT collection to help protect the bay and the people.
Lawa said they are very thankful that the provincial and local governments have been supporting the community’s efforts by giving incentives in exchange for the collected COTs. “Among barangay captain diri sa Lago nagpakuha ug dap-ag in exchange sa bugas, and last month lang more or less 3,000 ka dap-ag among nalubong diri sa daplin,” Lawa said. April Marjorie Rudes, provincial tourism officer, said that this year’s Sarbay celebration will focus more on “environmental-related activities,” especially on the collection of COTs which she said, “have immensely affected some areas in Sarangani Bay specifically the coastal areas of Glan and Maasim.”
“Each participant who will join the activity will receive P500 cash with a minimum of one sack of COTs,” Rudes said.
On May 26, four coastal barangays in Maasim will also participate in the COT Community Collection activity, which include barangays Kamanga, Tinoto, Malbang, and Colon.
The crown-of-thorns community collection is among the highlights of this year’s Sarbay fest anchored on the themes I Love Clean Sarbay, Heroes of Sarbay, and #WakeUpSarbay in line with the festival’s comeback after its two-year slumber due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)
Photo taken by Jake Narte during the Crown-of-thorns Community Collection on May 25 at Barangay Lago.Photo taken by Jake Narte during the Crown-of-thorns Community Collection on May 25 at Barangay Lago.