AS the earth is made up of mostly water, there is a call for people to think about the ocean when discussing environment issues. This was the sentiment shared by one of the presenters during the symposium. Truly, majority of the earth is composed of water and thus, issues about our ocean should be tackled and be given importance.
Themed Challenges of Asia-Pacific Coral Reefs under Changing Ocean, almost 400 participants from different countries and regions across Asia and the Pacific attended the 3rd Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium in Kenting, Taiwan.
The event was a venue for scientists, managers, environmentalists and local stakeholders from key organizations to meet and share their expertise and lessons learned in the field of marine science. It was also a good opportunity to encourage collaboration between different institutions to work together toward the conservation of the marine ecosystem.
Representing Haribon were Dr. Margarita Lavides, research manager, Gregorio dela Rosa Jr., research specialist, and myself. Different institutions from the Philippines were also present such as the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, UP Visayas, UP Mindanao, Silliman University and De La Salle University. Part of the symposium was a tour at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (NMMBA).
Haribon staff presented three papers, titled Comparison of Fish Extirpations in Four Marine Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines, Are the baselines shifting at Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur? and Highlighting the EDGE Flagship Species Conservation in Northeastern Philippines.
The first two papers were results of the preliminary analysis of the data gathered for the Darwin Initiative Project, “Responding to Fish Extirpations in the Global Ma–rine Epicenter” in collaboration with Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. The third paper was from the Evolutionarily Distinct and Glo–bally Endangered (EDGE) project of Haribon which determined the status of three EDGE Coral species.
The symposium was an eye-opener on the current situation of marine environment in the Asia-Pacific. While a lot of presentations highlighted the coral reef diversity in this region, there were also studies that emphasized the need for the conservation of marine resources to respond to the changing climate. Overfishing, pollution, and climate change are some of the problems that need to be addressed.
In my presentation, I discussed the reality that our marine resources were depleting faster than we thought; fish species may have gone extinct before us. Our fishermen are not only catching less, but are cat–ching smaller fish towards the present.
Ultimately, this symposium is a call for marine practitioners and different agencies to make a difference and catalyze change in their respective countries, and work together toward the sustainability of our marine resources.