Biri Initiative is a non-profit
organization dedicated to restoring the fragile coral reefs around Biri Island,
Northern Samar, the Philippines.
The Philippines has more than its fair share of the world's coral reefs, 27,000 km2 of them spread around 7,107 islands. Northern Luzon forms the apex of a 5.7 million km2 area known as the Coral Triangle, recognized as the global center of biodiversity and a top priority for conservation.
Unfortunately, all is not well in paradise.
In 2007, the official community-based reef monitoring program of the United Nations, the Reef Check Foundation, reported that only 5% of the country's reefs were in "excellent" condition.
The World Atlas of Coral Reefs, published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2001, reported that 97% of reefs in the Philippines are under threat from destructive fishing methods using cyanide and dynamite. Combined with overfishing, these are largely to blame for the destruction of the very ecosystems that so many small fishing communities, like Biri, depend on.
A single reef can support as many as 3,000 species of marine life. As fishing grounds, they are from
10 to 100 times as productive per unit area as the open sea.
In the Philippines, an estimated 10-15% of the total fish harvest
comes from reefs, and 80-90% of the incomes of small island communities comes from fisheries.
Biri Initiative explores methods of sustainable fishing to help the local community optimize use of existing stocks while improving them for the future. This includes construction of a fish hatchery, an education center, and a plant for producing innovative artificial reef balls known as "reefbuds".
We also investigate alternative forms of employment, new educational opportunities, and ways to empower women in the community.