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Marine Bio Experts Wage Solutions to Protect Corals

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Marine biologists and experts recently put forward science-based solutions that address issues in coral protection in the country.

Dr. Wilfredo Roehl Y. Licuanan, in his talk entitled “Current Status of PH Coral Reefs and Prospects for the Near Future,” recommended to “fix the reef first before transplant.

He was speaking in the recent forum on National Coral R&D Program which highlighted the current status of the Philippine coral reefs, the importance of research for the conservation of corals, the exploration of our scientists and researchers of the Philippine Rise and its overall impact to the economy of the Philippines. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources (DOST-PCAARRD), particularly the Marine Resources Research Division headed by Dr. Mari-Ann M. Acedera, the forum was part of the recent 2017 National Science and Technology Week celebration.

“Reefs do not form overnight. They take thousands of years to develop,” he said adding that the coral reef crisis cannot be resolved by coral gardening as it is expensive and is not practical.

Coral gardening is the cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration.

According to him, the method is also risky as instead of actually repairing the damaged coral reef, it might harm the reef even more.

Another sad reality is that, he said, 80 percent of the coral mortality is actually caused by various human activities and not natural calamities.

Take for example the case of the minesweeper ship USS Guardian that on January 17, 2013 ran aground on the south atoll of the Tubbataha Reefs, a delicate ecosystem in the Sulu Sea treasured for its rich marine biodiversity.

The grounding damaged 2,345 square meters of coral on the reefs, considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The better thing to do is to take care of the remaining reefs,” he said.

Dr. Patrick C. Cabaitan, also a speaker, discussed the topic ‘Sexual Production of Corals and Why Sex is not Enough?’

He said that studying coral reefs is essential to the economy of the Philippines as they also provide for the ecotourism of the country. He emphasized that scientific intervention is an important tool in coral production.

“Corals reproduce through asexual and sexual means but sex is not enough for the corals,” he said.

He suggested that researchers or anyone interested in studying corals pursue basic science to understand reefs, consider other ecological processes in conducting reef restoration efforts, and integrate restoration with management efforts.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cesar L. Villanoy, in his talk entitled ‘Updates on the Oceanography of the Benham Rise’, discussed his past researches and the importance of understanding the movement of the waters around the Philippines.

His researches addressed pressing concerns of the country particularly in fisheries, harmful algal blooms, storm surges and other complex dynamics of archipelagic oceanography.

He said that it’s vital to understand the movement of the waters and its temperature to be able to formulate policies with regards to management of the country’s marine resources.

He also reminds everyone to always consider the processes that determine our physical environment in order to explain the ecology of organisms and the observed trends.

Dr. Hildie Maria E. Nacorda, in her talk entitled ‘On the Benham Bank Biodiversity: Taking Learning to the Next Step’, discussed the expeditions the Philippines has done to determine the economic potential of Benham Rise, now called the Philippine Rise.

Though the two expeditions done in 2014 and 2016 have discovered the existence of marine species in the Philippine Rise, Dr. Nacorda said that further studies are needed to fully understand the potential of the rise.

Initial findings of the nationwide assessment of Philippine coral reefs

In relation to this call to the public of the marine experts to help in the preservation of the remaining coral reefs, DOST and Department of Environment and Natural Resources are working on a coral reef assessment throughout the country to create a National Coral Reef Status next year.

This is because despite of the Philippine archipelago being well known for its species-rich coral reefs, there is a lack of updated information on the present status of its coral reefs.

The initial findings of the Nationwide Assessment of Philippine Coral Reefs by Licuanan, et al were published in the Philippine Journal of Science last June 2017.

Reefs samples were randomly selected from around the country, with the number of assessment stations for each of six biogeographic regions stratified by the total area of reefs in each of these regions. For two years, 166 reefs have been sampled.

Based on live coral cover, more than 90 percent of the sampled reefs are in the poor and fair categories.

So far, the mean hard coral cover of the country at 22 percent is comparable with that of the Indo-Pacific region, but much lower than previous estimates for the Philippines.

These values indicate a marked decline in the condition of local reefs over the last four decades, thereby revealing the urgent need for the revision and update of conservation and management policies. (Rosemarie C. Señora, S&T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)

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PDEA Aims to Free Up to 8k Barangays Yearly from Illegal Drugs

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Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino targets to free 7,000-8,000 barangays per year from illegal drugs, as President Rodrigo Duterte has four years left to fulfill his campaign promise.

“We have a timeline of four years more before the President steps down and we need to clear 7,000-8,000 barangays per year,” Aquino said during a forum on the administration’s “Rehabinasyon” program on the first day of the three-day National Information Convention (NIC) in Davao City on Monday.

Combining the Filipino words for rehabilitation and nation, “Rehabinasyon” aims to take a holistic approach to eliminating the country’s drug problem by putting a premium on the rehabilitation of drug surrenderers, saving the youth from the evils of drugs, and envisioning a drug-free nation with a better future.

The PDEA chief said more than 24,000 barangays have yet to be cleared of illegal drugs. As of Feb. 8, 2018, the Duterte administration has cleared 5,327 barangays of prohibited substances.

Aquino also reported the agency has conducted 85,068 anti-drug operations and arrested 121,087 drug personalities in anti-drug operations.

He pointed out PDEA has seized P19.61-billion worth of evidence from 9 drug laboratories and 179 drug dens.

Aquino added the agency has arrested 454 government workers, including elected officials, and rescued 618 minors.

The PDEA chief also said the agency targets to establish offices in the Philippines’ 13 key ports to stop the entry of illegal drugs in the country, noting that more than 80 percent of illegal drugs in the country comes from overseas.

The PDEA chairs the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) created by President Duterte in March 2017.

ICAD launched the Rehabinasyon program, which features three components: RealNumbers, RealSolutions, and RealStories.

Under these components, initiatives like information dissemination, treatment of drug dependents, livelihood programs, job security, and alternative modes of development will be reintroduced and implemented across the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 elections under the campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and curb corruption in government.

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DPWH Resumes Road Repair Works on 7 Roads in Metro Manila

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will continue its road reblocking and repairs in the cities of Quezon and Caloocan this weekend.

According to DPWH National Capital Region Director Melvin B. Navarro, the repair and rehabilitation in six (6) major roads in Quezon City and one (1) in Caloocan City covering an area of 2,136.35 square meters will start 11 PM Friday, 16 February 2018.

In Quezon City, reblocking and repair works will be done at the northbound direction of the following roads: Visayas Avenue in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) outerlane; EDSA between Landers Street to Howmart, 5th lane; Congressional Avenue Extension corner Tandang Sora Avenue, 1st lane; Congressional Avenue from EDSA to Cagayan Street, 3rdlane; Quirino Highway from T. Urbano to Pagkabuhay Road, inner lane; and A. Bonifacio Avenue from Calavite Street to Mariveles Street, middle lane. Also included is the southbound direction of A. Bonifaco Avenue, crossing Sgt. Rivera, middle lane.

Repair works will also be undertaken at the northbound direction of Bonifacio Monumento Circle in Caloocan City.

Motorists are advised to use possible alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion in the affected areas.

Using one (1) day concrete mix, affected roads will fully open 5 AM Monday, 19 February  2018. (DPWH)

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Improved Infra, Eased Regulations to Boost Trade, Investments in ASEAN

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Member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to improve physical infrastructures and streamline regulatory processes in an effort to facilitate trade and investments in the region, according to a report from state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a report titled “ASEAN connectivity: The hows and whys,” PIDS information officer Neille Gwen de la Cruz noted that connectivity is important to the region’s continued economic growth and an integral factor to realize the vision of an ASEAN Community by 2025.

ASEAN leaders have adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which has the goal of achieving a “seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of Community” by the year 2025.

“Right now, ASEAN is recognized as one of the world’s largest economic zones. Making it easier to transport goods and services, reducing cumbersome processes, or simply opening more ways for people to move around the region would help facilitate the growth of ASEAN SMEs (small and medium enterprises),” said De la Cruz.

Citing an ASEAN Secretariat data, she said SMEs comprise 90 percent of companies in the region and contribute to as much as 60 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, making them the driving force of economic growth in the ASEAN.

“One of the main advantages of having an integrated region is having a seamless trade. Once the means to move from one country to another has been provided, there would be a freer flow of goods, services, and workers within and across the region, bolstering the perception that the region is an attractive market,” she added.

The PIDS report noted that an interconnected ASEAN is also envisioned to promote knowledge sharing and cultural exchange through improved physical infrastructure, streamlined regulatory processes and harmonized procedures and standards.

These are expected to create significant positive impacts on the region’s SMEs, as well as tourism and human resources, among others, it said.

“Promoting ASEAN connectivity will also boost tourism by capitalizing on the diverse history and culture of the region. Easing visa requirements across ASEAN would encourage greater mobility of people,” De la Cruz added.

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Challenges Facing Filipinos Overseas Tackled at Global Online Confab

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Senior officials of the government and private institutions will tackle different problems and challenges facing overseas Filipinos (OFs), including persistent illegal recruitment,  at a global conference for overseas Filipinos to be held here and shown live on YouTube on Feb. 24 and 25.

The “2018 Global Conference of Overseas Filipinos & Livelihood/Investments Exhibition” also aims to help OFs identify which profitable livelihood projects that they can put up back home to secure the financial security of their families.

Between January and November last year, USD28.24 billion (PHP1.41 trillion) were sent home by overseas Filipinos through banking channels, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Despite their huge earnings, many OFs have not put up sound investments, with scores still taking risks with illegal networking schemes.

“While overseas Filipinos are often hailed as modern heroes (bagong bayani) for sending home over USD20 billion a year, it is ironic that they are beset by numerous problems. This global conference aims to tackle these problems and help identify solutions to them with the assistance of government and private institutions,” said Alliance of Overseas Filipinos for Change (AOFC) President Juanito Concepcion.

Investments and livelihood are, therefore, a major focus of the conference organized by a Hong Kong-based NGO, AOFC, with LINKPAD Inc. in Manila as its secretariat and marketing arm.

 Further details about the event and sponsorships can be obtained from LINKPAD at (02) 734-6300, (02) 788-6521, and (02) 500-0040, 0908-6199582; 0917-5932000 or at globalonlinefilipinoconference@gmail.com.

Up to 10,000 overseas Filipinos  gathered in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and in different other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America are expected to watch online this conference that will be shown live on YouTube and Facebook Live. (PR)

About 500 local participants — comprised of visiting OFs, OFs who have returned home for good, family members of OFs, officials of government agencies and private institutions relevant to OFs and other migration and development stakeholders — are also attending the conference.

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