Freshwater scientists in the country on Tuesday called on the public to help clean up the lakes near their residences and places of works, saying they are habitat of various species and major sources of food and livelihood.
At the start of the four-day symposium on Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystems held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Dr. Rey Donne Papa, the chair of the event, said lakes are not just sources of livelihood, food, and recreation but also centers of culture. Hence, people living around them are dependent on survival in all aspects of life.
Citing Taal Lake in Batangas province as an example, he said lakes are currently not much regulated, with many of them overfished and being turned into dumping areas of solid wastes, making their water quality polluted, and giving way to invasive species, displacing their usual fauna like the well-loved delicacy tawilis.
Papa said this is the first time that a symposium on freshwater is being held, and that gathering the lake scientists in the country is a very rare occasion.
Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay needs political will, urging President-elect Rody Duterte to appoint freshwater scientists that are highly qualified.
Hong Kong University Prof. David Dudgeon, the main speaker of the symposium, talked about biodiversity and the conservation of the animals that inhabit streams and rivers.
He explained food-web dynamics and energy flow in streams, and the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function.
There are 600 lakes in the country, but only 150 are accessible to freshwater scientists, and studies are not even comprehensive.
To encourage more freshwater studies, seven scientists were recognized yesterday by their colleagues.
They were honored based on their contributions: Prof. Augusto Mamaril for freshwater taxonomy, Prof. Roberto Pagubayar for biology mentoring, Prof. Emerita Macrina for community engagement and environment awareness, Adelina Santos-Borja for environmental science and management, Prof. Rafael Guererro for public service; Prof. Ruben Umaly and Maria Lourdes Cuvin-Aralar were given special awards.
The delegates of the symposium will be treated to a trip to Taal Lake.