Pinoy marine biologists lauded by leading coral scientist
A leading Australian scientist on coral ecosystems sees the next generation of Filipino marine biologists as the potential saviors of coral reefs.
Professor Terry Hughes said the Philippine marine biology students can reverse the threats faced by coral reefs, the effects of which impact on all life on Earth.
“From the rich exchange between scientists in Australia and Filipino marine biologists for the last three decades, I believe that (Philippine) youth has what it takes to reverse current trends and contribute greatly towards better understanding of coral ecosystems and their impacts not just on marine life, but on the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos and other peoples,” Hughes said.
He said the Philippines has very rich marine biodiversity that is intrinsically linked to all other marine ecosystems in the Pacific and elsewhere.
But he said that with the threats facing such ecosystems now, Filipino marine biology students have their work cut out for them even before they leave school.
“I look forward to increased cooperation between Australian and Filipino scientists and researchers, especially since we share a lot of concerns on the coral front, and especially since the next generation of Filipino scientists hold so much promise,” he said.
Three major threats
According to Hughes, climate change, overfishing and land runoff are the three major threats to the existence of coral reefs around the world.
He said the protection of coral reefs is imperative as it directly impacts the lives and livelihoods of millions who depend on corals and marine resources for a living, including from fishing and tourism.
Professor Hughes concluded his visit to the Philippines on World Oceans Day, June 8, with a lecture at the Siliman University as part of the “Scientists in Schools” initiative of the Australian Embassy in Manila.
For his part, Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said the science program is in support of the Philippine government's priorities of raising appreciation for science education and of research as a path to sustainable development.
The lecture caps off several days of talks that also included the University of the Philippines Marine Sciences Institute and the Philippine Science High School.
Visit to the Philippines
Hughes' visit kicked off June 5, with scientific presentations at the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Forum.
There, he presented his latest research, as well as the state of the world’s coral ecosystems, including impacts from climate change.
The CTI is a multilateral partnership between six governments (the CT6) 1 to safeguard the region’s marine and coastal biological resources.
For this year, the theme of World Oceans Day is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change.” — TJD, GMA News