Haribon attends national marine symposium

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BESIDES being part of the coral triangle, a region known to have the highest concentration of marine and coral species, the Philippines –is also recognized as the “center of the center of marine shorefish diversity.”

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Coined by doctor Kent Carpenter and colleagues, this means the country is indeed rich in marine resources with the highest diversity of fish species.

However, according to other studies, our country is also considered the most anthropogenically threatened marine region because of human induced disturbances brought by overexploitation and destructive fishing practices.

With this knowledge, the 13th National Symposium on Marine Science sought to find solutions in increasing the capacity the Philippine marine ecosystem to absorb disturbance while retaining its identity, structure and function.

Themed Moving Towards Resilient Marine Ecosystems, the national symposium was held in October at General Santos City. It was attended by almost 400 participants representing different academic institutions, civil society organizations and local government units all over the country.

The symposium served as a venue for key organizations working on marine science research and development to meet and share lessons learned and experiences from the field, and encourage collaboration among them in order to work together towards the conservation of the marine ecosystem.

Haribon Foundation was represented by Gregorio dela Rosa Jr., Haribon research specialist, and myself. We presented three papers: first, “Grouper Catch Trends” (1950s to 2014) in five marine key biodiversity areas inferred from fishers knowledge using linear mixed methods; second, Widespread local disappearances of finfish species in the Philippines inferred from fishers knowledge using linear mixed methods; and third, Initial insights on fish extirpations in fished areas in five marine key biodiversity areas in the Philippines.

These are part of the results of Haribon’s Darwin Initiative Project 19-020 on Responding to Fish Extirpations in the Global Marine Epicenter in collaboration with Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

The Haribon fish extirpation papers presented in this symposium contribute to the growing evidence for dramatic declines in abundance of particular fish species including large species such as bump head parrotfish, giant grouper, hump head wrasse, African pompano and other grouper species, in data-poor situations. It offers further evidence from fishers’ knowledge and underwater surveys, of local extinction vulnerability of finfish species.

This will inform updating of the Philippines National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, specifically the Action Plan to Prevent Species Extinction and the country’s National Red Listing of fish and other marine species, using IUCN’s Regional Red Listing methodology.

Since 2012, Haribon Foundation in collaboration with Newcastle University in UK has been implementing the Darwin Initiative Project 19-020 titled Responding to Fish Extirpations in Global Epicenter of Marine Biodiversity funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK.

Its major aim is to identify and model threatened, locally extinct, and extremely depleted marine fish species using multiple data sources in five key marine biodiversity areas including Lanuza Bay, Verde Island Passage, Danajon Bank, Polillio Group of Islands and Honda Bay.

Other components of the project include capacity building for resource management, reconciling conservation with sustainable livelihoods and providing inputs to national policy e.g. National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans NBSAP.

For more information on the Darwin Initiative Project 19-020, email doctor Margarita N. Lavides at research@haribon.org.ph.

Act. Make an Impact. Protect, conserve, and save biodiversity. Be a Haribon member. Register: bit.ly/joinHF and e-mail to: act@haribon.org.ph Sign up now!

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