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Philippine corals in poor condition — DOST

MANILA, Philippines - A preliminary study on the condition of corals in the Philippines showed that a majority of them are in poor or fair condition, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday.

The DOST said initial findings of the nationwide assessment of Philippine coral reefs showed that 90 percent of the 166 reefs sampled are classified as either poor or fair.

It also showed that the average hard coral coverage in the country is at 22 percent, comparable with the rest of the Indo-Pacific region but lower than previous estimates for the Philippines.

The agency said the initial findings highlight the urgent need to revise and update the conservation and management policies of the government in terms of protecting coral reefs across the Philippine archipelago.

The DOST and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2014 started a coral reef assessment program to look into the status of Philippine coral reefs.

The science department recently organized a forum on the national coral research and development program to discuss possible solutions to address the worsening condition of corals.

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Wilfredo Licuanan, co-author of the study that showed the initial findings, said reefs should be fixed first before any transplant program is initiated.

“Reefs do not form overnight. They take thousands of years to develop,” he said, noting that the coral reef crisis cannot be resolved by coral gardening which is expensive and impractical.

“The better thing to do is to take care of the remaining reefs,” he added.

Patrick Cabaitan of the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines said studying coral reefs is essential to the economy as they are a facet of ecotourism.

He also emphasized that scientific intervention is an important tool in coral production.

The DOST said the full report on national coral assessment will be released next year.

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