From Yolanda's Rubble to Nemo's Humble Abode: Taclobanons Breathe New Life Underwater

CocoAybee | Jul 09, 2015
From Yolanda's Rubble to Nemo's Humble Abode: Taclobanons Breathe New Life Underwater

Taclobanons have thought of a creative way of turning the rubbles left by Super Typhoon Yolanda into artificial corals reefs that have given new sanctuaries to the local marine life while cleaning up the city further and providing livelihood to the typhoon survivors. 

Ten (10) meters deep in the San Pedro and San Pablo Bays of Tacloban City, are 174 artificial reefs (ARs), covering almost 10 hectares of sea bed. This is a rehabilitation project of Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization funded by Christian Aid to bring back the economic livelihood activities of the fishermen along the coastal barangays, especially Barangays 89 and 90 of Tacloban and more importantly, to restore the marine sanctuaries which were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda that struck the city November 8, 2013. 

Photo credits to “Rehabilitation Potential for Fishing Areas in San Pedro and San Pablo Bay, Leyte Gulf” by Mr. Mario Muan II and Ms. Arlene May Tengonciang, Geologists)

Marine Assessment

San Pedro and San Pablo Bays are located in the northwest of the Leyte Gulf and have been the main source of the fishermen’s catch before Typhoon Yolanda. After the strong typhoon when it was clear fish stocks were low, UPA decided to consult a group of geologists from UP Diliman to conduct a sea bed survey using topographic maps and nautical charts to measure the sea depth and to assess the conditions of the existing reefs and to provide reference points for the rehabilitation project to be done

Photo credits to Mr. Matt Alcantara

The Artificial Reefs (AR)

Typhoon Yolanda left several damaged houses and other infrastructures in Tacloban City. Many concrete slabs and debris from ruined roads and sea walls were scattered along the shore line of Payapay (Barangay 89).

Mr. Denis Murphy, the Executive Director of UPA, thought, why not clear the debris and turn the concrete slabs into artificial reefs by piling up them which have little spaces or holes to serve as fish habitats and to eventually help increasing the volume of the fishermen’s catch.

Thirty partner fishermen cleared the shoreline as cash for work for six (6) months. They started last February and will finish by August. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also supports the project. 


The local fishermen in Payapay, San Jose District in Tacloban City were organized by UPA community organizers (COs) to become the main players of the AR project implementation. UPA and the fishermen coordinated with BFAR through a series of meetings and consultations. BFAR provided the fishermen orientations, participative sea survey, technical assistance (divers), other necessary materials like buoys and instructions on how to protect and conserve the ARs through “Bantay Dagat” against illegal fishers.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Matt Alcantara

A barangay and city ordinance declaring the site as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) still have to be acquired in order to have a stronger mandate to the sea.

With the newly deployed ARs, Nemo has his hope that someday, he and his relatives will live safely and abundantly in a sea free of cyanide and fish massacres. 

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