People and the Sea has been monitoring the coral reefs around Malapascua since the beginning of their activities on the island in early 2015. Part of that monitoring includes recording the abundance of coral predators such as COTs. Hence, People and Sea has three years of data showing the evolution of COTs on ten survey sites around Malapascua.
Results of the monitoring show that the mean density of COTs in Malapascua has increased by 440% since 2016, and now reaches 0.015 (± 0.005) individuals/m2 (105 individuals/ha). The COT control guidelines, published by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, state that a site is experiencing an outbreak if their density exceed 15 individuals/ha. COT densities on the reefs of Malapascua are now 7 times that threshold.
In an effort to foster collective action to tackle the problem the Crown-of-Thorns problem, People and the Sea worked to facilitate a workshop that brought together the Municipal Environment & Natural Resources Office (as well as regional level DENR officials) along with concerned stakeholders and business representatives from the island.
The workshop saw presentations from the local and regional government officials as well as the Lead Science Officer of People and the Sea (Alicia Dalongeville). After considering the threat posed by COTs in more detail, and a look at the survey results of PepSea, there was a review of agreed collection/removal practices, as well as a proposal on how best to collectively monitor the situation going forward, and the establishment of a data collection system to coordinate removal activities.