A professor at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said that the island nation should focus on restoration of its coral reefs rather than rely solely on conservation efforts, according to a news article in Business Mirror. Dr. Rhodora Azanza, who recently spoke at the National Research Council of the Philippines general membership assembly, said that while previous coral reef efforts in the country have focused on conservation, restoration of coral reefs are more pro-active and would have faster and long-lasting benefits. Azanza, an expert on seaweeds and harmful microalgal biology, says that marine conservation reserves have fallen short of the required 25 to 35 percent of 25,000 square kilometers of coral reef areas that need to be protected in order to protect and stabilize coral reef biodiversity.
While conservation should still be part of a framework in keeping these ecosystems viable, Azanza believes that conservation is too passive. She cites the increase in reported fish kills from bacteria such as Cochlodinium polykrikoides and Ceratium furca for the need for an active and robust restoration plan for the country’s coral reefs. If the country’s reef biodiversity does not stabilize, the country would experience a loss of a food source, she said.
The Philippines is home to 7,107 islands, and has one of the largest and most diverse populations of marine fish and corals in the world. Many marine species are collected here for the aquarium trade, both legally and illegally. Many of its most popular tourist areas, such as Boracay Island has seen its reef suffer from tourism, but there are efforts underway to restore the reefs in the Philippines, including those of Boracay and other islands.