Current Management, Conservation, and Research Imperatives for Philippine Coral Reefs

Wilfredo Y. Licuanan1,2*

1Br. Alfred Shields FSC Ocean Research Center, De La Salle University, Manila 1004 Philippines
2Biology Department, De La Salle University, Manila 1004 Philippines

The recent nationwide assessment of 206 fringing reefs in the Philippines revealed the loss of one-third of their hard-coral cover such that none qualified to be in excellent status. These findings, taken in the light of recently published studies showing that marine protected areas (MPAs) by themselves are not sufficient to protect corals and coral reefs against climate change impacts, indicate the need for urgent management and conservation action. We must implement statistically robust, methodologically-sound monitoring of reefs coupled with local and national government action to manage and protect reefs from the direct impacts of human activities. Laws and regulations must also be reviewed and updated. We must also identify and map the well-developed reefs in the country. These reefs tend to have higher coral cover and diversity and have endured the environmental challenges over thousands of years. With our help, they may serve as Noah’s ark reefs of the future.

Keywords: climate change, coral cover, coral reefs, diversity, monitoring