The coral reefs at Apo Island in Dauin town in Negros Oriental have impressed not only tourists but Australian scientists as well.
Professor Terence Hughes, convenor of the 12th International Coral Reef symposium to be held this July in Australia, commended the state of coral reefs there.
A report on Negros-based Visayan Daily Star Saturday quoted him as saying he was impressed by the “incredibly beautiful,” vibrant and diverse coral reefs in Apo Island during a dive visit there Thursday.
The professor also lauded the 60- to 80-percent coral cover in Apo Island, and said it was “incredibly diverse as I’ve ever seen in other parts of the Coral Triangle.”
Hughes was at Silliman University in Dumaguete City for a lecture as part of the Scientist in Schools program of the Australian Embassy in Manila.
Unique species in the Philippines
According to Hughes, he saw some 60 marine species not found in Australia, even though there are 350 species in the Great Barrier Reef alone.
On the other hand, Hughes said Apo Island is famous among coral reef researchers and managers, and is the location of an ongoing study and collaboration between Filipino and Australian researchers.
“Looking at the effectiveness of the ‘no-take’ areas that are initiated and maintained by local people, Apo Island is a really good example of how communities can sustainably manage their coral reefs and gain the long term benefits that coral reefs can give to them,” he said.
He added the people on Apo Island "are managing a vibrant coral reef dive and tourism industry, and effectively sustainably managing their fisheries.”
Need to boost fish populations
But Hughes emphasized the need to increase the fish population which, he said, was at quite a low level.
Hughes said this is his first visit to the Philippines, where he has given five lectures and met with coral reef researchers.
Also, he has met people working on the Coral Triangle Initiative of which the Philippines is a part of.
The Scientists in Schools program aims to help raise the appreciation for science education, research, and innovation as a path to development.
It was launched May 2011 at the UP College of Medicine in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology. — TJD, GMA News