Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR120608: Leading coral scientist hopeful about next gen Pinoy marine biologists

Leading coral scientist hopeful about next gen Pinoy marine biologists

Professor Terry Hughes, Australia’s foremost marine biologist on coral ecosystems, said that the marine biology students in the Philippines today may just be the next agents of change to reverse the threats faced by coral reefs, the effects of which impact on all life on Earth.

“The Philippines has very rich marine biodiversity that is intrinsically linked to all other marine ecosystems in the Pacific and elsewhere. They face grave threats right now and Filipino marine biology students have their work cut out for them even before they venture out of school,” said Professor Hughes. “But from the rich exchange between scientists in Australia and Filipino marine biologists for the last three decades, I believe that your youth has what it takes to reverse current trends and contribute greatly towards better understanding of coral ecosystems and their impacts not just on marine life, but on the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos and other peoples.”

Professor Hughes identified climate change, overfishing and land runoff as the three major threats to the existence of coral reefs around the world. He said that the protection of coral reefs is imperative not just for the sake of environmental conservation itself, but because it directly impacts on the lives and livelihoods of millions who depend on corals and marine resources for a living, including fishing and tourism.

Professor Hughes concluded his visit to the Philippines on World Oceans Day, June 8, with a lecture at the Siliman University as part of the “Scientists in Schools” initiative of the Australian Embassy in Manila. Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said that the science programme is in support of the Government of the Philippines’ priorities of raising appreciation for science education and of research as a path to sustainable development. The lecture caps off several days of talks that also included the University of the Philippines Marine Sciences Institute and the Philippine Science High School.

His visit kicked off on Tuesday, June 5, with scientific presentations at the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Forum, wherein he presented his latest research, as well as the state of the world’s coral ecosystems, including impacts from climate change. The CTI is a multilateral partnership between six governments (the CT6) 1 to safeguard the region’s marine and coastal biological resources.

Auspiciously, the theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change”

“I look forward to increased cooperation between Australian and Filipino scientists and researchers, especially since we share a lot of concerns on the coral front, and especially since the next generation of Filipino scientists hold a lot of promise,” Professor Hughes concluded.

1 Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste