Prof. Terence Hughes, convenor of the 12th International Coral Reef symposium to be held next month in Cairns, Australia, commended yesterday the state of coral reefs in Apo Island, the renowned dive destination in Dauin town, Negros Oriental.
Hughes was at Silliman University in Dumaguete City for a lecture on “Scale, Stock-Recruitment Dynamics and the Global Decline of Coral Reefs” as part of the Scientist in Schools program of the Australian Embassy in Manila.
He said he was impressed by the “incredibly beautiful”, vibrant and diverse coral reefs in Apo Island during a dive visit there Thursday. He also lauded the 60 to 80 percent coral cover in Apo Island, and said it was “incredibly diverse as I’ve ever seen in other parts of the Coral Triangle”.
He said he also saw around 60 marine species not found in Australia, though there are 350 species on the Great Barrier Reef itself.
Apo Island is very famous among coral reef researchers and managers, and is the location of an ongoing study and collaboration between Filipino and Australian researchers, Hughes said.
“Looking at the effectiveness of the ‘no-take’ areas that are initiated and maintained by local people, Apo Island is a really good example of how communities can sustainably manage their coral reefs and gain the long term benefits that coral reefs can give to them,” he added.
The professor from the James Cook University in Australia also noted that “people (on Apo Island) are managing a vibrant coral reef dive and tourism industry, and effectively sustainably managing their fisheries”.
But while the coral reefs are in very good condition, Hughes emphasized the need to increase the fish population that, he said, was at quite a low level.
Hughes said this is his first visit to the Philippines, and he has given five lectures around the country, met with coral reef researches, and people working on the Coral Triangle Initiative of which the Philippines is a part of. The Scientists in Schools program aims to help raise the appreciation for science education, research, and innovation as a path to development. It was launched May 2011 at the UP College of Medicine in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology.*JFP
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