UK donates P20 million to Ateneo and Haribon for the preservation of fish species dependent on coral reefs
The United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative Project is backing a P20 million joint project between Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, the Ateneo de Manila University Environmental Science Department and Haribon Foundation in an effort to rescue fish species inhabiting the country’s coral reefs.
British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie The project, called Responding to fish extirpations in global epicenter of marine biodiversity, was launched Monday morning by Project Leader Dr. Nicholas V.C. Polunin from the School of Marine Science and Technology of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, project coordinator Dr. Margarita N. Lavides of Ateneo de Manila University’s Environmental Science Department and Haribon Chair John Lesaca.
Polunin said the UK project is very timely since the Philippines is in the global marine biodiversity center, having an abundance of coral reefs which are the most biodiverse marine ecosystems containing more than 50% marine fish species in 0.01% of ocean water.
Fish extinctions have been detected in pilot studies off Bohol island in the southern Philippines and more of these studies have to be made to help prevent the eventual dying away of local marine ecosystems.
The Darwin Initiative actually assists countries rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to meet their objectives under one or more of the three major biodiversity Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES); and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), through the funding of collaborative projects which draw on UK biodiversity expertise.
The British group has taken an interest in Philippine marine ecosystems and is extending a 294,151 pound grant (estimated at P20.28 million) to make sure coral reef fishes do not fall into extinction and to help maintain and even improve its coral reefs.
Project head Dr. Nicholas V.C. Polunin Specifically, the project will:
1. Determine which fish species are threatened at five locations, through capturing fishers’ knowledge and well-replicated underwater survey. The interview protocol, and survey design will be rolled out to the 5 new study sites (Verde Island Passage, Palawan, Danajon Bank, Bohol, Pollilio Islands and Lanuza Bay).
2. Ascertain temporal abundance trends of fish species and groups and see how these trends vary among the five areas using fishers’ retrospective knowledge of abundances on decadal scales.
3. Strengthen capacity in resource management in Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur, through training and work among local government units and fisherfolk organizations.
4. Reconcile conservation needs with sustainable livelihoods in Lanuza Bay through building on existing projects in which stakeholders and local partners have fully participated.
5. Make policy recommendations at local, national and international levels. Lessons pooled from the site conservation and threatened species work will be used to inform local, national and international conservation plans.