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Through the efforts of the Cantaan Centennial Multi-purpose Cooperative, the barangay in Camiguin is now host to six of seven giant clam species found in the Philippines. Officials of the group yesterday shared their experience with officials and fishermen of Liloan town.  (Sun.Star Foto/Liberty A. Pinili)

LOCAL government officials in Liloan, Cebu expressed interest in establishing a sanctuary for giant clams in their municipal waters.

Liloan Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Rolando Tabuñag said that the local government wants to replicate the giant clam conservation project of the Cantaan Centennial Multipurpose Cooperative (CCMPC) of Camiguin, a finalist in the 6th Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Triennial Awards.

Alona and Anita Cordero of CCMPC presented yesterday their project to officials of coastal barangays and Bantay Dagat of Liloan.

Alona said the giant clam conservation project eased pressure on their coastal resources as members no longer rely solely on fishing for livelihood.

The giant clam conservation project of CCMPC has become a major tourist attraction in Camiguin. CCMPC earns about P100,000 a month from fees collected from visitors.

To date, CCMPC’s giant clam conservation nursery and sanctuary houses 1,400 adult giant clams and 2,600 juveniles.

Giant clams are the world’s largest immobile mollusk and are anchored to coral reefs in tropical waters. Of the 10 known giant clam species in the world, seven can be found in the Philippines.

Six in PH

Alona said that six of the seven can be found in Cantaan, where the community protects and manages a 3,290-sq.-meter fish sanctuary and a 42.4-hectare marine reserve off Barangay Cabuauan, all in the Mindanao Sea.

Margarita dela Cruz of the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College said that giant clams are part of a healthy coral reef ecosystem. They provide food to fish and other marine organisms so they play a vital role in fisheries.

Tabuñag said the Municipal Government is serious about its coastal resource management program.

The town allots more than P2 million a year on fisheries management and law enforcement, said Tabuñag.

Liloan used to be known for giant clams sold fresh or cooked on the highway near the town hall.

In early 2000, the Municipal Government seized 1,400 giant clams that were displayed along the highway. The seized clams were placed in the Barangay Poblacion marine sanctuary, which covers 24 hectares when combined with the adjacent Barangay Suba marine sanctuary.

Replicate

Sol Panugan, councilor in the coastal barangay of Cotcot in Liloan, said her village also wants to learn from CCMPC on how to begin and sustain coastal resource management projects.

Anita said that CCMPC began as a cooperative of 94 households but only 25 were active in the group’s activities.

“Many adopted a wait-and-see attitude. When they saw they benefits, they became active,” Anita told Liloan officials.

CCMPC members worked as volunteers when they established the giant clam conservation project. The group received grants from the Foundation for the Philippine Environment and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Alona said that through the giant clam conservation project, the community became independent and residents no longer depended on dole-outs from the Municipal Government.

Tabuñag said they hope that RAFI would help Liloan adopt the CCMPC giant clam conservation project in Liloan.



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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2015.