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February 2 of every year is celebrated as both the World Wetlands Day and National Wetlands Day respectively adopted by the Parties to the Ramsar Convention in 1997 and Presidential Proclamation No. 74 of 1999. This year's theme for the celebration is "Wetlands for Our Future– Sustainable Livelihoods."

The event aims to raise public awareness on wetland values and benefits, its conservation and wise use. Wetlands are areas permanently submerged with water, whether fresh, brackish, or salty. It is comprised of lakes, marshes, swamps, peatlands, rivers, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, mudflats, intertidal flats and even man-made wetlands like rice fields and reservoirs. Wetlands provide livelihood such as rice growing, aquaculture agriculture, handicraft-making, ecotourism and the like. Wetlands are among our major sources of food and drinking water. It also protects us against flooding, helps in water purification and serves as habitat for many different species.

We are calling the participation of the youth aged 15-24 years old to experience wetlands for themselves and join the Wetland Youth Photo Contest. Pictures must be taken in a wetland location in the country and must be uploaded to the World Wetlands Day website between 2 February and 2 March 2016. Participants will have a chance to win a free flight to a wetland location anywhere in the world courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections.

This photo contest will highlight one of the many ways wetlands ensure our future. For the details of this contest, please visit http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/photo-contest

Photo Contest Poster small

IvoryIn pursuit of the Philippines' National Ivory and Action Plan, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) organized a national consultation on the proposed policy regarding the registration of raw and worked elephant ivory for commercial purposes on November 12, 2015 at the La Breza Hotel, Quezon City. The proposed policy details the requirements and procedure for registration of raw and worked ivory and will apply to all natural or juridical person engaged in carving, selling, and/or trading, whether part-time or full-time, or possess raw or worked elephant ivory.
Ivory1The national consultation revolved around a section-per-section review of the draft policy facilitated by Atty. Alton C. Durban. Participants of the activity were representative/s from DENR Policy and Technical Working Group, DENR Legal Service Office, DENR Regions NCR, 3, 4A (CALABARZON) and 4B (MIMAROPA) and Birds International Inc. The participants, among others, recommended the following:

• Only legally-acquired raw and worked elephant ivory for commercial purposed can be registered;
• Inclusion of statement/provision in disposition on confiscated ivory, incentive for registrants, scheme for monitoring the registrant's compliance, remedy for disapproved applications, penalties, visitation power if DENR representative/s and posting of Certificate of Ivory Registration on business establishment;
• Reduction of the length of the processing period for registration based on Citizen's Charter; and,
• Inclusion of weight of the ivory and high quality pictures of worked ivory in the inventory for effective monitoring of the registered stocks.
Ivory2The proposed policy should be completed and forwarded by DENR-BMB to DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje before year 2015 ends. The policy is in pursuit of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference Resolution number 10.10 (Rev. CoP16) urging all its member countries to put in place comprehensive national regulatory measures to: a) register or license all manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers dealing in raw or worked ivory; and b) regulate the domestic trade in raw and worked ivory, among other measures.   CITES is an international agreement between and among governments that aims to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Convention entered into force on 01 July1975 and the Philippines has been a member country since November 1981.

Month of the Ocean 2015: Taking it up a notch

From lectures and film showings to coastal clean-ups, tree plantings to boat festivals, underwater monitoring activities to fun runs, the 2015 Celebration of the Month of the Ocean (MOO) proves to be one for the books as the regions conducted a wide range of activities to highlight the importance of conservation, protection, and sustainable management of the coastal and marine resources of the country.

The celebration of the Month of the Ocean came very timely as massive reclamation activities have been taking place within the territorial waters of the country damaging the coral reefs and other marine organisms.

The theme for this year;s celebration on May as the Month of the Ocean is "Stand Up, Save Our Reefs".

In Metro Manila, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which was mandated to spearhead the activities of MOO in collaboration with the different sectors of the society by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999, kicked-off this year’s celebration by providing the logo to the regions and guidance of the activities they may conduct in their respective areas.

Now on its 16th year since its launching in 1999, the MOO this year witnessed individuals, government and non-government agencies, and organizations from the Philippines conduct ocean-related activities to raise the awareness of the people on the benefit of protecting marine ecosystems.

In the province of Iloilo, the DENR regional office and the Local Government Unit coordinated and conducted a coastal clean-up and planted api-api mangroves during the early morning of May 22, 2015 where more than ten (10) kilograms of waste was collected made of plastics, glass bottles, and plastic cups. Aside from the DENR Region VI, several provinces from different regions also conducted clean-ups not just in the beachfronts but also in riverbanks and creeks. The conduct of a coastal clean-up has been a popular choice as MOO activity as it does not only provide inputs to the solid waste management initiatives of local government, but it also encourages participation of the different stakeholders.

  

LGUs in the province of Isabela participating in Coastal Clean-up

 

One of the activities of this year’s celebration is the release of fifty six (56) hawksbills turtle hatchling in the wild in Glan Padidu, Glan, Sarangani Province led by the DENR Region XII. In Maituam, a municipality in the same provice also released two hundred eighty seven (287) hatchlings by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Kiamba together with the local government. The Pawikan hatchery had drawn the attention of the guests as it was maintained and developed in cognizant of the life cycle and biology of marine turtles.

The MOO celebration was also integrated with various festivals such as the Bankarera Festival in Region II. In coordination with the local government of Claveria, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the CENRO, this sport event showing the strength of competing rowers also aims to instill among the stakeholder their participation in protecting our coastal and marine resources.

 

Release of Turtle Hatchlings in Glan, Sarangani

  

Bankarera Festival in Calveria

The DENR Regional Offices also spearheaded different information, education and communication (IEC) campaign activities as it reaches out to coastal communities, especially those living in small islands in the country. In Cordova, Cebu, the Conservation and Development Division of Region VII conducted the retrieval of the Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) and the “Hands-on-Arms” outreach involving the local communities. The ARMS has the ability to mimic the complexity of coral reefs to attract and collect colonizing invertebrates which can be used to monitor marine reef habitats, and its biodiversity. Organisms collected from the structure were set up and presented to students to promote learning and appreciation of marine life.

ARMS Retrieval and Hands-On-Arms activity

The Caraga Region through the CENRO Cantilan had also successfully conducted a fun run entitled “Dyagan Para sa Karagatan” on 22 May 2015 which was participated by 292 3K and 5K runners from national government agencies, the LGU-Cantilan, non-government organizations and private sectors. In La Union, the DENR Regional office ran AVP presentations throughout the month of May and conducted the “Blue Ocean Strategy in Action Seminar-Workshop” for the youth of La Union in six (6) different secondary schools.

 For DENR Region XI, it was a matter of orienting their own staff of the current state of the oceans in the context of climate change adaptation and the well-being of the Flipino people that was given emphasis with the conduct of Bisita Karagatan on 29 May 2015 in Talicud Island, Samal. A total of 141 personnel of the Regional Office joined the activity who participated in lectures held separately on board three boats and in introduction to Scuba Diving and Snorkeling.

 These activities were just some of the events organized in observance of the Month of the Ocean celebration.

 With the emerging effects of climate change, the country looks forward in expanding the coverage of the Month of the Ocean celebrations in the coming years aimed at establishing a nation well-versed of the relevance of our coastal and marine environment.

"Dyagan Para sa Karagatan"

"Bisita Karagatan"

Diliman, Quezon City – Now on its 3rd year of celebrating the Coral Triangle Day, there is no stopping the widespread participation of the local communities in promulgating the message of this event held every 9th of June. By doing so, the country continuous to  show its commitment in safeguarding the richest marine region in the world.
Diliman, Quezon City – Now on its 3rd year of celebrating the Coral Triangle Day, there is no stopping the widespread participation of the local communities in promulgating the message of this event held every 9th of June. By doing so, the country continuous to  show its commitment in safeguarding the richest marine region in the world.

Diliman, Quezon City – Now on its 3rd year of celebrating the Coral Triangle Day, there is no stopping the widespread participation of the local communities in promulgating the message of this event held every 9th of June. By doing so, the country continuous to  show its commitment in safeguarding the richest marine region in the world.

The Ignition

Philippine government kicked-off its celebration on 8 June 2015 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC), Diliman, Quezon City. Led by the Coastal and Marine Division (CMD) of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the country revealed its banner for this year’s celebration which is in unison to the regional campaign of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) – “I heart coral triangle“.

Ms. Marlynn Mendoza, Chief of the Coastal and Marine Division, provided a background on what is the importance of celebrating the Coral Triangle Day. She emphasized that the Coral Triangle Day is celebrated to “position the Coral Triangle as a globally-significant ecoregion—a modern day icon of the natural world” and to raise awareness of its significance to millions of people dependent on it for the sustenance of their everyday lives.

The kick-off also highlighted the music composed by the CMD staff entitled “(Coral) Triangle is Heart” which tackles the need to “turn the tide” and “stand up for the center of marine biodiversity”. The song calls for action through sustainable use of marine resources and coastal protection and encourages everyone to act now. 

BMB Staff were also treated for a short trivial contest to identify their level of awareness on CTI. The kick-off also served as an announcement of the planned activities for the Coral Triangle Day 2015 celebration including the Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign at the Park which ran from 9-12, the CTI essay writing contest, and the focal activity of the Coral Triangle Day which is a bay-wide coastal clean-up at Dumanquillas Bay Protected Seascape (DBPS) in Zamboanga Del Norte on 9-10 June.

Division Chiefs of DENR-BMB unveils the 2015 Coral Triangle Day banner

Coastal and Marine Division Staff singing the CTDay 2015 song entitled: "(Coral) Triangle is Heart"

The Growth

Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center hosted an IEC Campaign for its visitors on June 9-12 in celebration of the Coral Triangle Day. The campaign showcased several facts about the Coral Triangle as the park hoisted tarpaulins on posts surrounding the vicinity. The mechanics for the campaign was made simple for the visitors: you get a question upon entry, roam around the park to look for the answer, and claim your prize at the information center.

Around fifty (50) visitors participated and claimed their prizes. The campaign was conducted primarily to raise the awareness of the visitors on the benefits we derive from our coastal and marine resources and inform the visitors of the need for a sustainable management of our national treasure.

Visitors of the NAPWC participated in the CT Day IEC Campaign
Members of the National CTI Coordinating Committee (NCCC) simultaneously populated the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Map (ctimap.org) on June 9. The CTI Map is a database and an interactive map of development activities in the Coral Triangle. Members who were given their usernames and passwords were able to provide inputs regarding their programs and projects which contribute in the achievement of the CTI goals.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also granted a total prize money of fifty thousand pesos (Php 50,000) for the Coral Triangle Day essay writing contest to commence in July 2015. The essay writing contest will invite students to write about the relevance of protecting the coral triangle.

The Flash Over

Together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-RETA 7813: Coral Triangle Initiative-Southeast Asia Project, the National CTI Coordinating Committee (NCCC) took lead in organizing a simultaneous coastal clean-up and Awareness Raising in the surrounding Municipalities of Dumanquillas Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape (DBPLS). The simultaneous clean-up was held on June 9, 2015 where members of the NCCC-Secretariat visited and provided a few remarks in the municipalities of Margosatubig, Buug, and Kumalarang. 

The event gathered more than 4000 individuals coming from various Barangays, women’s groups, and people’s organizations. For Buug, the members of the NCCC-Secretariat were welcomed by Mayor Lagas and Vice-Mayor Gako who also participated in the clean-up. More than the sacks of garbage collected, it was the combined effort of the various stakeholders and Local Government Units that was displayed during the coastal clean-up.

On June 10, the NCCC also conducted an Awareness Raising activity in the municipality of Margosatubig. Around 150 participants coming from various barangays, municipalities, local government agencies, people’s organizations, and students from the SPED section of Margosatubig elementary school attended the activity and took part in the presentations, games, and learning exchanges. 

Members of the NCCC, ADB-RETA Project, and teh LGU of Margosatubig

(Coral) Triangle is Heart

 See the sky with an open eye
Tears are pouring down the riverine
To muddied water like nothing matters
Steal the sea of salt, 
Just to rub it back in

Refrain 1: 
I go blue in my reflection
When it’s the color of lush provision
A conversation of conservation
Nothing more than washed intentions
Chorus 1:
But today we turn the tide
Now’s the time to pump our natural heart
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Because today we join the ride 
Through the currents of thalassic life
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Coral Triangle is Heart
Leather, orange, brown, olive, green
Mate and nest our coastal scene
Staple, protection and medicine
Bounty of the once pristine
Habits of greed, neglect and misuse
Switch to deeds of respect and right use
Protected land and seascapes
Communities patrol, illegal can’t escape
Refrain 2:
I see clear in my reflection
Let’s join together for celebration
A conversation of conservation
 It starts with your pure intention
Chorus 2:
But today we turn the tide
Now’s the time to pump our natural heart
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Because today we join the ride
Through the currents of thalassic life
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Coral Triangle is Heart
Bridge:
T.L (Timor Leste), S.I (Solomon Islands), 
P.N.G (Papua New Guinea), Malaysia
Indonesia
Philippines
Six million square kilometers
Let’s stop being bystanders
Pump the natural heart
Be the ocean’s star
Coral Triangle is Heart
Coral Triangle is Heart
Refrain 3:
I see clear in my reflection
Let’s join together for celebration
A conversation of conservation
It starts with your pure intention
Chorus 3:
But today we turn the tide
Now’s the time to pump our natural heart
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Because today we join the ride
Through the currents of thalassic life
Stand up for the center of marine biodiversity
Coral Triangle is Heart
Lyrics by: Mark V. Pacalioga, BMB-CMD

Students from the SPED section participated in the games conducted by the NCC

Regional Director Arleigh Adorable of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region IX was present in the activity where he provided an opening message to the participants. A story-telling session for the students was also led by Ms. Jessica Muñoz of DA-BFAR that focuses on the interconnectedness of different animals and the consequences of destructive human activities to the environment.

The DBPLS is one of the project sites of the ADB RETA 7813 where they are currently supporting ecosystems approach to fisheries management (EAFM) activities in the area.

Fully Developed

Along with the national agencies celebrating the Coral Triangle day, the DENR Regional offices also organized their own activities. An Information, Education, Communication (IEC) Campaign on Coral Triangle was conducted by DENR Region I as part of the formal launching of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Dasol, Pangasinan last June 9, 2015. It was attended by the LGU Officials and different department heads of the Municipality of Dasol, the Barangay Council, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Regional Field Office (RFO). Through the campaign, the importance of Dasol MPA was all the more underscored and seen in the light of global cooperation towards sustainable coral reef resources protection, conservation and management. The result of the campaign was a full commitment from the Bantay Dagat and fisherfolks who are directly involved in the management of their MPA to take care and make their MPA fully functional.

DENR Region XII also joined the celebration as they conducted awareness raising activities and Crown of Thorns (COTs) collection. In order to lessen the impacts done by the infestation of the number on coral predator, COTs collection was initaitied by the regional office divers. The activity aimed to collect and abolish at least forty percent (40%) of COT in Malbang reef. It was participated by LGU Maasim as key informant on the COTs breakout and private divers’ volunteers as part of the collection team.

DENR Regional Director Arleigh Adorable (left) joined the Awareness Raising activity conducted for the DBPLS

The Aftermath

Overall, the celebration of the Coral Triangle day in the Philippines has began to reach new heights and more and more stakeholders are beginning to take notice of its relevance. From a lone activity, to multiple collaborations, the NCCC Secretariat continues to widen its coverage and expand the “Coral Triangle Day Wildfire” hoping that one day, the country achieves the sustainable management of its coastal and marine resources.

Participants are getting ready for the installation of buoys within the designated core zone of Dasol MPA in Pangasinan

The DENR-BMB staff is one in celebrating the Coral Triangle Day

Highlighting the significance of science-based initiatives and community participation 
in managing and protecting our marine environment and resources

ARMSPhoto
The Biodiversity Management Bureau has recently entered into a Collaborative Research Agreement with the Smithsonian Institution (SI) on "The Use of Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) for Biodiversity Assessments across Geographic and Anthropogenic Impact Gradients in the Philippines". This collaboration is supported by USAID's PIRE project and builds on U.S. Embassy Manila's USAID support to the Philippine Government on coastal and marine biodiversity conservation through the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mission Support program. 


The partnership is intended for scientific research on biodiversity and for building local capacities, particularly on developing expertise on taxonomic identification and systematics of crypto-biota and marine invertebrates, using morphological and molecular approaches. It is part of a larger research previously initiated by the U.S. NOAA and Smithsonian Institution (SI) for biodiversity assessment of crypto-biota using ARMS as a standardized biodiversity monitoring tool. The partnership will also monitor the ecological impacts of ocean acidification, ocean warming, and other stressors and to understand the effects of climate change and ocean acidification to the coral reef community over the long term.

Among the Bureau's foreign collaborators include the: SI; US NOAA; San Diego State University; Moss Landing Marine Laboratories/San Jose State University; and University of California. Local partners include the: National Museum, Philippines (NM, Phils); Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-BFAR-NFRDI); Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD); University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI); De La Salle University (DLSU); and the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Mabini and Tingloy, Batangas.

A series of activities related to ARMS was conducted from May to June 2015 and this was jumpstarted by the ARMS Kick-off Event on 18 May 2015 at the BMB Training Center, Quezon City.

ARMSImage
SCIENTIFIC

In a span of two weeks starting May 20, the research team composed of representatives from some of the agencies and institutions mentioned above, successfully recovered 25 ARMS, 22 calcification accretion units (CAUs), and 7 STR temperature sensors in five locations within the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor. A total of 4,660 motile or moving specimens sorted from the 2mm fractions were preserved and curated by the National Museum, Philippines, wherein 1,388 subsamples were collected for voucher-based DNA barcoding. Major bulk of the specimens were classified as either Arthropoda (crabs and shrimps), Echinodermata (brittle stars), or Mollusca (snails and bivalves). The team were also able to process 480 samples for virome analysis, and 75 samples each for both metagenome and metabolome analyses. Water samples were also processed for nutrient, viral metagenomes, bacterial counts, and dissolved inorganic carbon analyses.

There were fourteen Filipino participants from the government agencies and academic institutions concerned who were capacitated in field processing of specimens collected from ARMS units, as well as, water samples during the field mission. Meanwhile, ten researchers and staff from the NM, BFAR-NFRDI, UP-MSI and DLSU were trained in handling and processing samples in the laboratory.

 
ARMSPhoto1 ARMSPhoto2
ARMS unit underwater partially covered with crinoids, algae, and other encrusting materials.

Divers detaching weights from the ARMS unit and covering it with a bin to prevent any motile organisms from escaping during ascent.

ARMSPhoto3 ARMSPhoto4
Our foreign research collaborators demonstrates how to dismantle the ARMS and sieve water to filter out motile organisms. The team setting up the plate photography station. After dismantling, the top and bottom layer of the ARMS plates will be taken a hi-resolution picture for benthic community analysis using the Coral Point Count with Excel Extensions (CPCe) software.
ARMSPhoto5 ARMSPhoto6
BMB team putting up tags to the distinct sessile communities in each ARMS plates for pre-species identification/classification. Motile organisms are being sorted and classified. Each organisms are being tagged and photographed with a Philippine Museum-based label.
ARMSPhoto7 ARMSPhoto8
In this station, tissue samples are being collected from each of the distinct motile organisms and then preserved for further analysis purposes using DNA/molecular technology. Afterwhich, the voucher specimens are being soaked in ethanol for starage in the Philippine Museum. In here, the team tries to isolate pure tissue samples from the sessile community. The voucher specimen are likewise being preserved in ethanol.
ARMSPhoto9 ARMSPhoto10
Water samples collected from the ARMS deployment site are being processed for nutrient, viral metagenomes, bacterial counts, and dissolved inorganic carbon.

Filipino participants joined and capacitated in the 2-week laboratory processing of samples at the De La Salle University.


A parallel outreach event for the community was also conducted for the municipalities of Tingloy and Mabini in Batangas. This was attended mostly by Sangguniang Bayan members, Bantay Dagat, and FARMC representatives. They were given an opportunity to witness and experience a hands-on field processing of samples.

 

ARMSPhoto11 ARMSPhoto12
The participants of the One-Day Introduction to ARMS for the municipalities of Mabini and Tingloy, Batangas (left photo). The crowd gather in anticipation and excitement as the research team dismantles an ARMS unit (right photo).
 
ARMSPhoto13 ARMSPhoto14
A collage of some of the motile specimens collected from VIP. Stitched plate photos showing sessile communities
 
At the end of the field mission, eighteen units of ARMS were redeployed in Arthur's Reef, Twin Rocks, and Batalang Bato for future monitoring purposes.

The Bureau looks into the possibility of fabricating the ARMS units locally and of deploying them in other areas of marine biodiversity/conservation importance (e.g. NIPAS).

OUTREACH

Recognizing the community as an effective partner in the successful implementation of the Bureau's endeavours in the conservation of our resources, BMB, in coordination with its Regional Offices in Regions IV-A and VII and LGUs concerned and with the support of NOAA, Smithsonian Institution and USAID, conducted an outreach event called the Hands-on-ARMS.

Hands-on-ARMS aims to heighten the awareness and appreciation of the community on marine biodiversity. It is hoped that thru the event, the community will be able to appreciate the importance of the marine organisms in providing us with a healthy reef, and hence, sustaining the goods and services we people benefit from the sea.

During the event, the ARMS unit that was deployed last year in Cordova, Cebu and Carabao Island, Cavite were recovered and dismantled, afterwhich the motile organisms were collected, sorted, and examined by the students and local community.

Cordova, Cebu. 27 May 2015

 
 
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BMB and DENR Region VII dismantling the ARMS unit. BMB giving information about ARMS to local media.
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Using simple handlens and forceps, the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Cordova,

Cebu were the first to sort out motile organisms.

The next generation showing interest in marine biodiversity.
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A glimpse of some of the marine organisms collected from the ARMS unit soaked a year under the waters of Alegria Marine Sanctuary in Cordova, Cebu.

Maragondon, Cavite. 26 June 2015

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BMB, together with a representative from the community,

presenting a short skit about marine biodiversity, climate change and ARMS.
Dr. Vincent Hilomen delivers a message in behalf of Dir. Theresa Mundita Lim.
ARMSPhoto22 ARMSPhoto23

Our partners from the De La Salle University –
Dasmariñas set up compound and dissecting microscopes for use of the students.

Dr. Hilomen also joins the students in examining the motile specimens.
ARMSPhoto24
Students in action...
Activities conducted are in line with the celebration of the Month of the Ocean, with theme, "Stand Up, Save Our Reefs."
ARMSPhoto25
(All photos are courtesy of the ARMS Partnership Collaborators)