Verde Island Passage's first major biodiversity inventory set this month

April 12, 2011 1:35 am 

MANILA, April 11 — Government and its partners will mount this month the first major international expedition to inventory flora and fauna in Verde Island Passage (VIP) which experts identified as the world's center of the center of marine biodiversity.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Malcolm Sarmiento is upbeat about this expedition's contribution to Philippine fisheries, noting the VIP inventory will serve as input for future government policies on promoting sustainable development and fisherfolk livelihood there.

"The expedition's results will help government better promote integrated coastal resource management there," he said.

He noted that among the benefits of integrated management are more effective law enforcement, establishment of sanctuaries where needed and creation of alternative livelihood for people concerned.

BFAR Fisheries Regulatory and Quarantine Division's senior fisheries regulation officer Ludivina Labe confirmed she and a colleague will take part in the expedition.

"The activity aims to confirm presence of previously identified species in VIP and to identify new species there," she said.

Labe said the expedition will seek to confirm if the area is indeed the center where many species evolve from existing ones there.

VIP lies in the center of the Indo-Malay-Philippines archipelago which experts long considered as hosting the world's highest concentration of marine biodiversity.

Batangas and Mindoro Oriental provinces are along VIP.

Labe noted California Academy of Sciences will conduct the VIP inventory in collaboration with State-run University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute.

"This will be the biggest expedition of its kind in VIP so far -previous efforts to collect and identify species there were on a lesser scale," she said.

CAS senior curator Dr. Terrence Gosliner will be the expedition's principal investigator, she said.

Parties concerned earlier scheduled the expedition from April 27 to June 5 this year.

"Eight days will be devoted to investigating the deep sea while inventory in shallow waters will cover about five weeks," Labe said.

She noted longer time is needed for inventoring VIP's shallow waters since many species are found there.

BFAR's vessel will be used in exploring the target waters.

The expedition is unique since this will cover VIP's terrestrial species as well.

Labe said the terrestrial inventory will cover one week.

In preparing for the expedition, Labe said parties concerned established base in Club Ocellaris in Batangas' Anilao municipality.

Specimen collected will be processed there in the laboratory specially set up for the expedition, she noted.

Aside from experts and foreign graduate students, she said local students will join the expedition to help process specimen collected.

"It'll be an educational experience for them," she said. (PNA)

DCT/LDV/CJT/mec

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