O.R.C.A.

O.R.C.A. (Oceanography, Research, Conservation, Analysis) was the brainchild of oceanographer Steven Koch who came to the Phillipines in 1978 with the Peace Corps and was heavily involved with setting up marine national parks for conservation. This is where O.R.C.A. came into play to help stop the damage and begin recovery on the marine ecosystems. O.R.C.A. assessed the health of reefs and began to promote how to help the reefs recover. Taking a reef with only 5% living coral on it they were able to increase to 60% rapidly by using stony-cover coral in around 2 years. Only problem with this is having to use fast growing species of coral such as table corals (Acropora) It will start around 100 years to produce a climax reef but the thing is its a step in the right direction. Aswell as good for fish and other marine organisms the 60% cover is also good for snorkelling for example and tourism is a major factor that can help change the plight of the reefs. Koch realising that government agencies lack the funding to do anything substantial went to the Beach resorts who could protect the reefs due to it being a main source of income. The first resort being Cebu’s Alegre Beach Resort in Sogod which is a beautiful resort. The reef lays in front of the resorts beach areas. The first thing that O.R.C.A. worked on was a complete program on the recovery for the reef. Which included mud removal, tree planting, landscaping aswell as other things to help the reef. Aswell as stopping all Cyanide and blast fishing in the area. The next thing was to reintroduce species that no longer existed in the area and included the reintroduction of Giant clams for example aswell as transplanting complete coral colonies. This wasn’t as simple as it sounds not only in the movement but also protecting the new coral and reintroduced species from predators such as Crown-Of-Fish Starfish. One of the important factors in getting this to work was the support of the local fishing community aswell as eventually making it a coral sanctuary.

The next projects are on Mactan Island with the Shangri-la which is hopefully going to help recover large parts of Mactans reef eco system aswell as other projects going on in Davao, Dapitan and Leyte. Aswell as involved in the protection of Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu sea which is already supposed to be protected yet is exploited for fishing.