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Thursday, October 27, 2011

11th National Symposium on Marine Science

The 11th National Symposium on Marine Science organized by the Philippine Association of Marine Science (PAMS) provides an opportunity to share learning on the coastal zone’s vulnerability to climate change with its theme “Coasts in the Midst of Climate Change.”

The Remote Sensing Information for Living Environments and Nationwide Tools (RESILIENT) for Sentinel Ecosystems in our Archipelagic Seas (SEAS) Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) takes this opportunity to impart to its partners the highlights of their studies which focus on the development of vulnerability assessment and adaptation mechanisms.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (VA) for Fisheries Ecosystems was presented by Samuel S. Mamauag and Porfirio M. Alino both Ph.D. of the Coral Reef Community Ecology Laboratory (COMECO), Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Climate change refers to the long-term change in global or regional weather patterns brought about by natural and human-exacerbated rise in global temperature.

The Philippines is the center of the center of marine biodiversity. Its diverse and rich natural resources provide food and livelihood for millions of Filipinos. The sustainability of these resources, however, is threatened by some factors.

These are lack of proper resource management that considers the development of coastal areas, the poverty situations and the alarming climate change-related effects on the ecosystem and human welfare.

Climate Change threatens us with sea level rise, increased sea surface temperature (coral bleaching; increasing storm intensity), coastal erosion, changes in ecosystem patterns and processes, and, changes in fisheries harvest (reduced food security and loss of livelihood opportunities)

To prepare, we need adaptation measures to buffer the effects of climate change on ecosystems, resources and livelihoods based on a thorough and integrated understanding of the vulnerability of a site to climate change impacts.

For this, we need to conduct Vulnerability Assessment (VA) on different scales and components.

VA is a cost-effective, diagnostic tool to gather critical information on the sensitivity and level of exposures of an area to climate change impacts, and its capacity to minimize these impacts. It is a practical first step in identifying priority areas and site-specific climate change adaptation measures.

VA can be used in planning program of actions under an adaptive management strategy. Insights on adaptation measures arising from VA can be incorporated in coastal resource management (CRM) plans.

These are: MPA establishment and management; appropriate fisheries regulations; rehabilitation and protection of nearshore habitats; and baseline profiling, monitoring and evaluation.

This serves as a guide in prioritizing actions by local and national government, and NGOs.

Vulnerability is assessed by factoring in the potential impacts of climate change and the capacity of a system to cope with these changes. Representation: Potential impact (sensitivity and exposure)-Adaptive capacity =Vulnerability.

Information is gathered by using a variety of survey tools. All information gathered are categorally assessed as low, medium and high with corresponding scores.

VA is composed of three components. They are fisheries, ecosystem and socio-economic. The total of scores in each component represents its vulnerability to that component. Integrating the three components helps identify appropriate ecosystem-level response to climate-change.

Understanding the site-specific vulnerabilities to climate change can help us develop the most cost-effective and appropriate adaptation measures.

Data collection methods are the following: Underwater assessments (Line Intercept Transect (LIT) and Fish Visual Census; Focus Group Discussions (FGD)Fishing methods/gear inventory, resource mapping, seasonality of fishing and other livelihoods, catch trends; One-on-one interviews:and, Fisheries and socio-economic information. Estrella Z. Gallardo, PSciJourn MegaManila

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