Doing Good in the Phillipines

Rotary’s Group Study Exchange Program has over the years provided thousands of young business people with the opportunity to visit other countries and to experience the host country’s culture and institutions, to observe how their vocations are practised abroad, to develop personal and professional relationships, and to exchange ideas.

The relationships formed continue long after the visits end and Bob Cliff of the Rotary Club of Burslem and the members of the group that accompanied him during the GSE visit to the Philippines in 2006/7 have continued to work with the Rotarians they met delivering projects such as the Sight Savers initiative which have made a real difference to the lives of people in the area.

Whilst in the Philippines Bob became aware of the damage caused to the Atimonan coastline and fisheries by years of overfishing and by fishing methods which had involved the use of dynamite and cyanide and tight mesh nets which had destroyed the marine environment.

In order to tackle the damage and to help to revive the fishery the members of the Rotary Club of Atimonan Sunrise have been working with Rotary clubs around the world to develop a system of artificial reefs and with Bob’s assistance Tettenhall and nine other local Clubs came together this year to help fund work on a further four reefs.

Made of concrete and steel modules these artificial reefs promote coral growth, give shelter to marine life and serve as a fish nursery and are the basis for a future sustainable fishery and tourist/scuba diving attraction. Bob joined us tonight to report on the progress which has been made and on plans to designate the whole coastline as a Marine Sanctuary to be owned by the local community and to be patrolled by the Coastguard and the local community to ensure that the previous methods of overfishing do not recur.

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