US, PH monitor marine species and habitats

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Divers from the local government and the US Embassy work together for the Philippine seas

Divers from the local government and the US Embassy work together for the Philippine seas

With the ongoing partnership of the United States and Philippines on ocean protection, US State Secretary John Kerry gathered key personalities in government, science, industry, and civil society leaders in a two-day “Our Ocean” conference in Washington, D.C on June 16 to 17 to discuss the significant challenges that the ocean face today.

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These challenges include ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing practices, and marine pollution. The Philippines was represented by Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, the vice chairman of the Climate Change Commission.

The latest collaborative effort of the Philippines and US for marine conservation was the installation of underwater Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) at three carefully selected marine biodiversity conservation sites.

The ARMS, provided by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) and the Philippine Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB), were installed in Carabao Island in Cavite, Snake Island in Palawan and Mactan Island in Cebu.

This will provide a systematic, consistent and easily comparable way to monitor marine reef habitats and species. Since the US began its NOAA in 2008, more than 850 ARMS have been installed throughout the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

The recent installation these monitoring structures is part of a long term plan by the DENR to deploy more ARMS units in protected marine areas to support biodiversity monitoring.

DENR-BMB Director Mundita Lim led ARMS installation program in the Alegria Marine Protected Area in Cordova held in Mactan Island. Along with the director were Dani Newcomb of Usaid and Alett Nunez, NOAA Philippines representative.

With a strong bilateral partnership, the US has made prioritized a partnership with the Philippines to protect its unique marine biodiversity. The US government has invested over P1.9 billion through Usaid to support marine conservation in the Philippines and address problems such as overfishing— illegal, unregulated and unsustainable fishing—and habitat degradation.

Usaid’s programs has helped increase fish stocks, rehabilitate critical fish habitats, supported modernization of fisheries management, and mitigate conflicts over natural resources.

For more information about “Our Ocean” Conference, visit http://ourocean2014.state.gov.

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