The Philippines will conduct a study on the proper management of marine mammals in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.
DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said the agency’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) has teamed up with the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman’s Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM) to implement the project seeking to protect the country’s marine mammals.
The project, entitled “Assessment and Mobilization of Research Initiatives on Philippine Marine Mammals (PHLMarMams)” is funded by the DOST-PCAARRD.
Also involved in the project are the Philippine Marine Mammals Stranding Network (PMMSN), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the NGO: Community-Centered Conservation (C3) PHL (for the dugong part).
“The project aims to have the proper management of marine mammal species including the documentation of their threats to address the problems systematically and to shine a light for these marine mammals and protect its wonderful world,” de la Peña said.
“In the Philippines, marine mammals’ exact status is largely unknown. Since there are limited studies conducted, people have less information on why it is important in our ecosystem.
The DOST chief cited the pressing need to protect the marine mammals as they are not only ecologically vital to their aquatic environments, but also to humans.
“Unfortunately, these animals are vulnerable due to their demanding biology ‒ long-lived, large size, mostly single live birth, and extensive pre-reproductive period resulting in low reproductive potential,” he said.
“In addition to these biological vulnerabilities, these animals are mostly threatened by overexploitation, by catching, changing climate, habitat degradation and loss, and on top of these is pollution. The amount of trash, especially plastics, floating in our seas which end up being washed ashore in different parts of the world is staggering.”