Text by Rex Samuel A Abao Jr and Ria Duana A Roble | Photos by Mike McCue and Sue Ong
Sexual Coral Reproduction (SECORE) Foundation and Xavier University - McKeough Marine Center (XU-MMC) held a four-day workshop on coral propagation, conservation and restoration at the XU Marine Station, Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.
Held on May 2-5, the workshop led by XU vice president for Research and Social Outreach (RSO) Dr Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit, brought together stakeholders from the marine science and technology sector in the country.
The workshop created an avenue for the delegates to share insights and discuss on the status of the corals in the country.
The lectures, spearheaded by SECORE Foundation president Dr Dirk Petersen, focused on coral restoration employing sexual reproduction and included issues on coral degradation. For the concepts covered in the lectures be put into practice, laboratory works and complimentary night dives enabled the participants to observe first-hand coral spawning.
There were 9 academic institutions from different parts of the Philippines that participated in the workshop: University of the Philippines - Visayas Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanology, Bohol Island State University - Candijay Campus, Mindanao State University - Naawan, University of Northern Philippines - Vigan, Jose Rizal Memorial State University, Visayas State University, Mindanao State University - Sulu, De La Salle University and Xavier University.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Region 10 (DENR-10) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources - Region 10 (BFAR-10) also sent their representatives to the said event.
The event served as the initiation of the marine station as it was the first major activity to be held at the XU facility and the second time to be hosted in the Philippines by SECORE; the first being in Anilao, Batangas.
Other members of the team who trained the delegates and shared their insights were marine ecologist and SECORE Foundation communications officer Dr Carin Jantzen; aquarist Mitch Carl from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska, USA; aquarists Pam Montbach and Tim Wong from Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences in California, USA; and the aquarist, photographer, filmmaker Mike McCue from Underwater World in Guam, USA.
To conclude the workshop, a half-day seminar was held at the XU Nursing Amphitheater on May 6. Among those in attendance were Laguindingan Mayor Oliver L Ubaub, chairman of the Macajalar Bay Development Alliance (MBDA); Ruth M Tawantawan, DENR-10 regional executive director; Visa Tan-Dimerin BFAR regional director; Sandra R Arcamo, BFAR chief of the fisheries resources management division; representatives from the Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) from the Province of Misamis Oriental; representatives from different local government units in Misamis Oriental (members of the MBDA), Food Development Center (FDC), Samdhana Institute; and volunteer divers from Buddy Dive Center, Midway Resort, and Dive Special Inc.
SECORE was born in 2002 with the innovative coral breeding research of Dr Petersen at the Rotterdam Zoo and then evolved into one of the leading coral conservation initiatives of scientists and aquarium professionals from around the world. Today, SECORE has been a flagship center in sharing new techniques to different countries to ensure the conservation and protection of coral reefs.
Over the years, XU-MMC has geared toward its mission in conserving and restoring the degraded coral reefs of Macajalar Bay by encouraging the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and regularly set-up information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns for the coastal communities and other stakeholders.
The Coral Conservation and Restoration Workshop 2015 provided strategies and useful information that will aid the academe and government offices in achieving coral restoration efforts in the near future. Not only did the participants generally understand coral biology, they also acquired pertinent information directly from experts on sexual coral propagation.