Board Member Ryan Maminta enjoined the academe and concerned government agencies to venture into more research on the harmful algal blooms (HABs) in order to stop the species from spreading to the other municipalities of Palawan.
Maminta represented Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez in welcoming the participants during the opening of the 11th East HAB and 4th Philippine HAB Symposium and Conference on December 11, which was attended by researchers and scientists from East Asian countries, including the Philippines. The three-day event focuses solely on the harmful algal blooms, commonly known as red tide.
“So, huwag na nating hayaang makarating [pa ito] sa mga bayan-bayan kasi it will cause a lot pagdating doon sa economic well-being ng mga tao pati ‘yung economy ng lugar. Kasi karamihan sa Palawan, ‘yung mga nasa coastal areas, talagang [they] rely on marine resources para mabuhay,” Maminta said in a separate media interview.
He emphasized the crucial role of the scientific community, which is to communicate their research development and understanding to the people while the government needs to provide the management and mitigation programs based on that scientific data and information.
“So, ‘yung result nito (conference) will be echoed sa Provincial Government, the City Government and the academe within the province like PSU, WPU [and we hope for them] to do more pagdating dito sa Palawan kasi, if we will be affected by it [continually], kawawa tayo,” he said.
In the province of Palawan, aside from Puerto Princesa Bay, a few years ago, the Municipality of Taytay in the northern part and the Honday Bay, also in the City of Puerto Princesa were reported to be contaminated with HABs.
Maminta emphasized that protecting marine resources is very vital to the province because it is a tourism destination. This means that the tourism sector heavily relies on the seas for its food.
SENSOR FOR HABs, A GLOBAL DISASTER
And in the development of a sensor to address the serious problem on harmful algal blooms, Maminta echoed that the Provincial Government of Palawan is very much willing to support it.
Palaweño marine researcher, Dr. Deo Florence Onda from UP Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), announced that for six months next year, they will be putting a robot-like monitoring tool in Honda Bay, Puerto Bay and in Bolinao, Pangasinan.
“HABs is a global disaster, it’s a global problem and the more we talk to each other, the more we share, the more what we know, baka mas madali nating maintindihan ano ang HAB’s, what approaches are we going to use with the problem, how we manage the problem, and even mitigate,” Onda said, referring to the objectives of the said international scientific conference conducted in the City of Puerto Princesa through his suggestion.
“Ito talaga ay knowledge sharing [about] ‘Ano na ang nagawa ninyo? Para hindi na namin gagawin’….We also identify, ‘Ano pa ba ‘yung mga hindi namin naintindihan?’” he added.
STUDIES ABOUT RED TIDE IN PUERTO PRINCESA BAY
In one study presented in the conference conducted by Dr. Lota Creencia of Western Philippines University (WPU), together with Avillanoza, Sumeldan and Delgado, entitled “Spatial and Temporal Behavior of Pyrodinium Bahamese Var Compressum in Puerto Princesa Bay,” they concluded that all areas in Puerto Bay seem to have an equal degree of environmental suitability for the phytoplankton to proliferate and that June to August is their best time to reproduce. The researchers also found out that Pyrodinium bahamese var compressum is increasing beginning 2013 up to 2018.
They also noted that it was in 2013 when the HABs outbreak in Puerto Princesa Bay has started to occur.
Their recommendation regarding the problem is to conduct continuous monitoring on the said species and the other environmental factors because according to them, “HABs impact on the well-being of the human population is very alarming.”
“Study on the correlation between species abundance with environmental factors is highly recommended,” they reiterated.
Meanwhile, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that although cases of poisoning from harmful algal blooms have decreased for the past years, but not its occurrences.
“Kasi nga ang sitwasyon [ngayon sa bansa], bagamat nag-decrease na ang mga areas ng poisoning, pero…‘yung areas affected medyo madami pa. So, isa ‘yun sa mga dahilan kaya bakit kailangang ipagpatuloy ang research,” he explained.
He added that he has been receiving information on occurrences of fish kills of which they correlate it with the existence of harmful algal blooms in the area.
For the past years, the DOST head said that the scientific community first study the ecology and oceanography of HABs, their locations, types of areas they are thriving, and their abundance.
At present, the scientific community is in the status of conducting molecular studies with high hopes of raising the quality of prediction and management.
“Hindi lamang ito, ang genomics studies ng HABs ay pwedeng mag-lead into the development ng molecular monitoring tools, o doon din sa mga organismong iyon ay pwedeng maka-extract para sa monitoring,” he said.
Data show that in the Philippines, the first HABs affectation was detected in 1983 in Leyte.
SCIENCE-BASED HABs MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT
Meanwhile, Dr. Rhodora Azanza, president of the National Science and Technology Academy (NASA) shared to the local media that science is very important in monitoring and management on HABs because if not, it would be very difficult to interpret the data and to continue the studies.
“Ang science kasi ay evolving, dagdag ka nang dagdag sa dati na. Ang science is an accumulation of knowledge. It tries to prove whether the old knowledge is still useful, you add more knowledge, improve, process it, kaya sinasabing dapat science-based dapat ang monitoring. ‘Pag hindi mo dinagdagan ‘yang science mo, hindi ka mag-i-improve,” she exclaimed.
By merely less than half a thousand, Azanza enjoined the youth to join their roster for they still need scientists, researchers, and technology developers in order to help solve the emerging problems of the country, which, in this case, is red tide.