The Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) in partnership with the Local Government of Ferrol and support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Romblon Provincial Tourism Office will provide solar-powered modular facility and ICT equipment as part of its ecotourism projects to Pawikan Hatchery in Ferrol, Romblon.
Aside from the rich marble deposits in Romblon, the province is also abundant with beautiful and unspoiled marine attractions. Some of its booming tourist destinations lie across the shores of the province’s three major islands— Romblon, Sibuyan, and Tablas. These islands boast a wealth of marine life such as different species of sea turtles or “pawikan” namely Green, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback sea turtles, which are currently identified as “endangered”.
According to the 2017 Pawikan Conservation Report in Ferrol by Peace Corps Volunteers and DENR, the coastal area of Ferrol is one of the few nesting grounds of pawikan in the province. The said four endangered species could be found in three (3) of the barangays in the municipality. Pawikan Hatchery, is among the newest ecotourism hotspots in the region that is starting to attract local and international tourists being a marine sanctuary and one of the major natural nesting grounds of various sea turtle species in the region. However, the population of pawikan is dwindling owing to habitat degradation and destruction, ocean plastic pollution, climate change, and anthropogenic activities like unabated poaching for their meat, shell, and eggs and commercial fishing that causes injury or death.
With this, LGU-Ferrol is mulling over to move for stronger protection and conservation measures under Ferrol Bantay-Dagat group. This prompted DOST-MIMAROPA to initiate the project entitled “Technology Infusion to Improve Pawikan Management and Conservation” aimed at protecting endangered marine species and helping sustain and promote community-based ecotourism facilities.
Initially, a two-day activity was held at Sitio Binucot, Brgy. Bunsoran, Ferrol in April 24-25, 2018 to raise awareness on marine turtle conservation and protection. Activities include lectures and sharing of best practices and hands-on experience on coastal vulnerability assessment, proper handling of pawikan, hatchery management, basic data collection, and proper filling up of reporting forms. A total of 17 members of the Ferrol Bantay-dagat participated in the activity done in partnership with the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), and Bantay Pawikan Inc., Morong Bataan. The activity reiterated the potential of the Pawikan Hatchery as an ecotourism destination and as a sustainable means of livelihood for the people.
Also part of the project is the provision of a solar-powered modular facility equipped with ICT equipment that will serve as the power house of the bantay-dagat. The equipment will be used to strengthen the promotional activities for the facility as well as for booking and scheduling of tours and other pawikan conservation- related activities. Along with other technological innovations intended to bolster the economy of the region, the project is set to launch on the 2nd Week of September 2018.