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Initial Findings of the Nationwide Assessment
of Philippine Coral Reefs

Ardea M. Licuanan1, Michelle Z. Reyes1, Katrina S. Luzon1,
Marie Angelica A. Chan1, and Wilfredo Y. Licuanan1,2

1Br. Alfred Shields FSC Ocean Research Center, De La Salle University, Manila
2Biology Department, De La Salle University, Manila

*Corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

ABSTRACT
The Philippine archipelago is well known for its species-rich coral reefs, yet updated information on the present status of its coral reefs at the national level is lacking. Hence, a nationwide assessment was initiated in 2014 to update the information on the status of coral reefs in the Philippines. Reefs sampled were randomly selected from around the country, with the number of assessment stations for each of six biogeographic regions stratified by the total area of reefs in each of these regions. Five 50 m transects were randomly deployed in each assessment station. The initial data gathered from 2015 up to 2017 included a total of 166 stations (108 in Luzon, 31 in Visayas, and 27 in Mindanao), sampled across 31 provinces. None of these stations were classified in the excellent category based on live coral cover, and more than 90% of the same stations were in the poor and fair categories. Their average hard coral cover, weighted by the reef area of each biogeographic zone, was 22% (95% confidence intervals: 19.4, 24.9). These values indicate a marked decline in the condition of local reefs over the last four decades, thereby revealing the urgent need for the revision and update of conservation and management policies.

INTRODUCTION
The first ever nationwide assessment of coral reefs in the Philippines was conducted from 1976 to 1981. The initiative sampled stations located mainly in the Luzon and the Visayas regions and classified them using a four-category scale based on live coral cover (LCC), which is defined as the total of soft and hard coral cover. A reef is in “poor” condition if it has an LCC of 0-25%, “fair” if LCC is >25-50%, “good” if LCC is >50-75%, and “excellent” if LCC is >75% (Gomez et al. 1981). The results showed that 434 of the 619 stations (70.1%) that were surveyed were in “poor” and “fair” condition and only 34 (5.5%) of the stations were in “excellent” condition (Gomez et al. 1981).  . . . read more

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