Reef protection stepped up a gear

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The Government of the Phillipines has tightened regulations to stop fishing on the country's largest coral reef, Reuters has reported.

The Apo Reef off the coast of Mindoro island was left with only a third of its previous coral cover in the early 1990s after intensive fishing - which sometimes involved the use of dynamite and cyanide - stripped the reef of life.

Although a fishing ban has been in place since 1994, it was not properly enforced and the rejuvenation of the 27,400 hectare reef has been slow.

Now, slowly, endangered species are beginning to return to the 'no-take zone' around the reef. Divers have recently spotted a school of scalloped hammerhead sharks, rays are becoming a more common sight, and even sperm whales have been seen - a sure sign that biodiversity levels are rising.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist October 2007