Phl marine biologists seen as 'next agents of change'
Manila, Philippines - Terry Hughes, Australia’s foremost marine biologist on coral ecosystems, said that marine biology students in the Philippines may just be the next agents of change to reverse the threats faced by coral reefs, the effects of which impact on all life on Earth.
“The Philippines has very rich marine biodiversity that is intrinsically linked to all other marine ecosystems in the Pacific and elsewhere. They face grave threats right now and Filipino marine biology students have their work cut out for them even before they venture out of school,” said Hughes.
“But from the rich exchange between scientists in Australia and Filipino marine biologists for the last three decades, I believe that your 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 identified climate change, overfishing and land runoff as the three major threats to the existence of coral reefs around the world. He said that the protection of coral reefs is imperative not just for the sake of environmental conservation itself, but because it directly impacts on the lives and livelihoods of millions who depend on corals and marine resources for a living, including from fishing and tourism.
Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said that 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.
Hughes’ visit kicked off with scientific presentations at the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Forum, wherein 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 to safeguard the region’s marine and coastal biological resources.
The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change.”
“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,” Hughes said.