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
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.
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
Aliño PM, GOMEZ ED. 1994. Philippine coral reef conservation: Its significance to the South China Sea. In: Yamazato K, Ishijima S, Sakihara S, Taira H, Shimabukuro Z, Teruya F, Nishihira F. eds. Development and conservation in the Asia-Pacific Region. Proceedings of the Regional Conference of East-West Center Association: Regional Development in the 21st Century, Think Globally, Act Locally: 1993. Okinawa, Japan: The East-West Center Association Okinawa Chapter. p. 222-229.
ALIÑO PM, MICLAT EFB, NAÑOLA JR. CL, ROA-QUIAOIT HA, CAMPOS RT. 2002. Philippine Coral Reef Information Network (Philreefs): Atlas of Philippine coral reefs. Quezon City: Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. (Goodwill Bookstore). 264p.
ALIÑO PM, NAÑOLA JR. CL, DE JESUS DD, DE RAMOS RI, BALINGIT ACM, ROBLES LE, ARCEO HO, DEOCADEZ MR, ATRIGENIO M, MARTINEZ RJS, et al. 2012. Status of Philippine coral reefs (2008-2011). In: Baria V, Muallil R, De Jesus DO, Samonte P, Ricafrente MV, Arceo H, Aliño PM eds. State of coasts: Sustaining the state of the coasts reporting. Quezon City: PhilReefs, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development and the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines. p. 10-15.
BEN-TZVI O, LOYA Y, ABELSON A. 2004. Deterioration index (DI): A suggested criterion for assessing the health of coral communities. Marine Pollution Bulletin 48(9-10): 954-960.
BRUNO JF, SELIG ER. 2007. Regional decline of coral cover in the Indo-Pacific: Timing, extent, and subregional comparisons. PLoS ONE 2(8): e711.
DARTNALL AJ, JONES MS. 1986. A manual of survey methods for living resources in coastal areas. Australian Institute of Marine Science & ASEAN & Australian Development Assistance Bureau. 80p.
[DENR EMB-EIAMD] Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau – Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Division. 2007. Revised Procedural Manual for DENR Administrative Order No. 30 Series of 2003 (DAO 03-30) (Implementing Rules and Regulations of Presidential Decree No. 1586, Establishing the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System). Diliman, Quezon City: Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau – Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Division. 239p.
DUSTAN P, DOHERTY O, PARDEDE S. 2013. Digital reef rugosity estimates coral reef habitat complexity. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57386.
DYGICO M, SONGCO A, WHITE AT, GREEN SJ. 2013. Achieving MPA effectiveness through application of responsive governance incentives in the Tubbataha reefs. Marine Policy 41:87-94.
FLOWER J, ORTIZ JC, CHOLLETT I, ABDULLAH S, CASTRO-SANGUINO C, HOCK K, LAM V, MUMBY PJ. 2017. Interpreting coral reef monitoring data: a guide for improved management decisions. Ecological Indicators 72: 848-869.
GOMEZ ED, ALCALA AC, SAN DIEGO AC. 1981. Status of Philippine coral reefs – 1981. Proceedings of the Fourth International Coral Reef Symposium; 1981; Manila. 1: 275-282.
GOMEZ ED, ALIÑO PM, YAP HT, LICUANAN WY. 1994. A review of the status of Philippine reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 29(1): 62-68.
JAMESON SC, KARR JR, POTTS KW. 2003. A classification system for the diagnostic monitoring and assessment of coral reefs. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC. 27p.
KNOWLTON N, JACKSON JBC. 2008. Shifting baselines, local impacts, and global change on coral reefs. PLoS Biology 6(2): e54.
KOHLER KE, GILL SM. 2006. Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe): a Visual Basic program for the determination of coral and substrate coverage using random point count methodology. Computers & Geosciences 32(9): 1259-1269.
LICUANAN WY, ALIÑO PM. 2014. A proposed framework for a national coral reef assessment program. Philippine Science Letters 7(1): 201-206.
LICUANAN WY, GOMEZ ED. 2000. Philippine coral reefs: status and the role of the academe to improve their management. Proceedings 9th International Coral Reef Symposium; 2000 October 23-27; Bali, Indonesia.
LICUANAN WY, ROBLES RC, DYGICO M, SONGCO A, VAN WOESIK R. 2017. Coral benchmarks in the center of biodiversity. Marine Pollution Bulletin 114:1135-1140.
MAGDAONG ET, FUJII M, YAMANO H, LICUANAN WY, MAYPA A, CAMPOS WL, ALCALA AC, WHITE AT, APISTAR D, MARTINEZ R. 2014. Long-term change in coral cover and the effectiveness of marine protected areas in the Philippines: a meta-analysis. Hydrobiologia 733(1): 5-17.
NAÑOLA JR. C, ALIÑO P, ARCEO H, LICUANAN WY, UYCHIAOCO A, QUIBILAN M, CAMPOS W, ALCALA A, WHITE A , GOMEZ E. 2006. Status report on coral reefs of the Philippines-2004. Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium; 2004 June 28-July 2; Okinawa, Japan. 1055-1061.
OSBORNE K, DOLMAN AM, BURGESS SC, JOHNS KA. 2011. Disturbance and the dynamics of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995–2009). PLoS ONE 6(3): e17516.
[PHILREEFS] Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines. 2003. Philippine coral reefs through time (2003): Workshop Proceedings. Second of the Atlas of Philippine Coral Reefs Series. Quezon City: Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman and the Marine Parks Center, Tokyo, Japan. 216p.
[PHILREEFS] Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines. 2008. Reefs through time 2008: Initiating the state of the coasts Reports. Quezon City: Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines (PhilReefs), MPA Support Network, Marine Environment & Resources Foundation, Inc. and the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman. 152p.
[PHILREEFS] Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines. 2010. State of the coasts: Promoting the state of the coast reporting. Quezon City: Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines (PhilReefs), MPA Support Network, Marine Environment & Resources Foundation, Inc. and the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman. 118p.
SCHUHMACHER H. 1997. Soft corals as reef builders. Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium; 1996 June 24-29; Panama 1:499-502.
VAN WOESIK R, GILNER J, HOOTEN AJ. 2009. Standard operating procedures for repeated measures of process and state variables of coral reef environments. Melbourne: Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building for Management Program, The University of Queensland. 34p.
WHITE AT, CRUZ-TRINIDAD A. 1998. The values of Philippine coastal resources: Why protection and management are critical. Cebu City, Philippines: Coastal Resource Management Project. 96p.
WHITE AT, VOGT HP, ARIN T. 2000. Philippine coral reefs under threat: The economic losses caused by reef destruction. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40(7): 598-605.