Government should review past research activities of experts on marine biology.
Government should review past research activities of experts on marine biology and determine which of them have resulted in the improvement of the environment and marine biodiversity (and) published in international refereed, scientific journals.
There is agreement among our people that the country’s terrestrial and marine environments need to be restored to approximate their previous conditions in the 1930s and 1940s.Government has indicated that for the land, a massive reforestation has to be done to help ensure that water supplies are sufficient for domestic, agricultural and industrial needs. Forests are also needed to save our unique forest-adapted biodiversity and to minimize the occurrence of destructive floods brought about by changes in climatic patterns.
Government has also indicated that restoration of marine ecosystems is on the development agenda as well. As shown in my earlier report in this column, coral reefs and their biotic components such as fish and large invertebrates have been severely depleted, reducing their biomass to about one-tenth of that in the 1930s and 1940s.
The result is that it has become impossible for the thousands of small-scale fishers to earn a decent living from fishing.
Not only coral reefs but also seagrass beds and mangroves that serve as nursery areas for fishery species have become degraded.
Coastal areas in general have become depleted of marine species on which poor coastal residents depend for food. The need to restore the productivity of coastal ecosystems is thus evident.
I have been told that government has the budget for coral reef and mangrove restoration. It is hoped that this budget will be utilized for projects or programs that have been shown to have produced good results.
At this stage of our knowledge of marine communities, there is no need for experimentation to determine what projects or programs should be funded.
All that is needed is for government to review the past research activities of experts on marine biology and determine which of them have resulted in the improvement of the environment and marine biodiversity, including fisheries.
The good thing is that the papers reporting successful projects have been published in international refereed, scientific journals that are easily available.
This is also a good time to bring in local government units to consider cooperation of several officials in the protection and management of bays where the productive ecosystems (mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs) occur. Such cooperation will make it possible to demonstrate the synergy in fish and biodiversity production when these three ecosystems are protected and managed through joint efforts of a number of coastal communities.
Furthermore, this is a good time to harness the experiences and knowledge of Philippine scientists who are authorities in marine biology and oceanography.
For example, for mangrove ecosystem, somebody like Dr. Jurgenne Primavera should be involved because of her knowledge of the ecological requirements of the various species of mangroves.
Finally, productivity of restored ecosystems requires constant and regular monitoring. This monitoring should be assigned to experts in the field who can make an honest evaluation of the results of restoration projects, as shown by their publication records.
Written by ANGEL ALCALA – Published on Friday, 29 June 2012