City hosts symposium for marine biologists

By USC AB Communications Intern Gavin Michael Cubillo |December 04,2017 - 10:01 PM

Society for Coastal Ecosystem Studies-Asia Pacific president Mutsunori Tokeshi answers questions from the media during the start of the weeklong biodiversity symposium yesterday at the Performing Arts Hall of the University of the Philippines Cebu.
cdn photo/lito tecson

Cebu City is hosting the third Society for Coastal Ecosystem Studies-Asia Pacific (SCESAP) International Biodiversity Symposium focusing on marine life concerns and ways to educate people on preserving marine biodiversity.

With issues about climate change and how it will affect life underwater, over 150 marine biologists are attending the symposium with paper and poster presentations, workshops and talks.

Scientists from the Asia Pacific countries like Indonesia, Japan and China, as well as from the United Kingdom are hoping that a fruitful symposium will lead to solutions in battling the threats to marine life.

Issues that affect marine ecosystems in the Coral Triangle will be discussed in the weeklong event, which opened yesterday and will run until December 9.

These include illegal fishing, water pollution, and coral bleaching, which were identified as the major threats to coral reefs in the Coral Triangle, a geographical term that refers to a roughly triangular area of the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste that hosts 500 species of corals.

According to the SCESAP head local organizer Dr. Porferio Aliño, a doctor of Marine Chemical Ecology, Cebu was chosen as the venue because the province is situated at the center of the Coral Triangle and SCESAP sees this as an opportunity to show the current problems the province is facing in terms of threats of extinction of marine species that are found locally.

“The marine life found here is under great threat and scientific efforts have been made to manage the resources better,” Aliño said.

Aliño added that the annual SCESAP symposium in the province is a great opportunity for scientists to gather and share scientific information and ways on how to preserve the life of different species that are living in the waters of the Pacific.

One of the problems that was pointed out during yesterday’s press conference is the lack of education of the people on the threats of marine life and how vulnerable coastal environments are to irreversible changes.

Mutsunori Tokeshi, the president of SCESAP, said that there is a gap between scientists and individuals with no backgrounds on sciences saying that “communication is one of the biggest problems that hinders action.”

“We are scientists so we would be more focused on scientific findings,” Tokeshi said referring to the use of scientific jargon as a contributing factor of miscommunication among the general public in discussing issues involving science.

Tokeshi added that SCESAP is working on ways to explain disastrous phenomena to the general public so that they can understand the threats of marine life better and be able to take part in solving the issues.

He believes that awareness and vigilance among the citizens can be a powerful factor on stopping further damages to the ecological system.

He also pleaded to local fishermen to stop the hunting of larger marine species such as sharks, turtles, and whales due to their significance on the marine ecological system.

SCESAP is based in Amakusa, Japan. It is a non-profit organization that empowers advance research studies in protecting coastal ecosystems located in the Asian-Pacific region.

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