Wednesday, January 30, 2008

EP10 (Jan30): The Center of the Center

It is sometimes hard to believe that our own little country has a special place in the world. Philippines has a very high wildlife endemism and bio-diversity, we’re like 10 times of Galapagos Island.

It’s not surprising also that within the Coral Triangle, the center of highest marine biodiversity (in the WHOLE WORLD) can be found in our very own Verde Passage. The waters of Balayan bay, Batangas bay, Maricaban strait and the waters between Batangas and Mindoro belongs to Verde Passage. It’s a paradise full of beautiful & colorful corals and bountiful fishes, not only in numbers – but in kind.

Born to be Wild visited and featured this place, to help raise awareness about this treasure and at the same time present potential issues that threatens this fragile environment. Bad fishing habits (like dynamite and cyanide use), threat of oil spill, pollution from boats and local communities – are some of the challenges that we’re facing in safeguarding Verde Passage. We did a look-see with Conservation Internationale who also explained to us how they do underwater monitoring. I tried but found out that it’s easier to drink beer and count stars, than put a survey line or grid and count fish underwater hehe.

What interested me is that fact that CI’s study was focused on identifying spawning sources and sinks. This is a very important factor in establishing “correct” Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), versus discretionary and non-research based MPA programs.

My key message: Help raise awareness about this special heritage – we can only preserve and conserve something that we can truly appreciate.

Last note: The Center of the center? Coral Triangle spans many countries and territories and includes the seas of south Asia, south-east Asia and western Pacific. Sulu-Sulawesi (bordering Philippines and Malaysia) is like the center of this triangle, and the ‘center’ of this sub-area is the Verde Passage – it is THE MOST BIO-DIVERSED marine area in the world.

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