February 27, 2014

Philippine Government Agencies Get EcoDiver Certified


Submitted by Reef Check Philippines

Since the beginning of Reef Check Philippines in 2007, most teams being trained generally came from either the academic world or non-government organizations. However, in September 2013, ten participants from the Coastal and Marine Division (CMD) of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) began their Reef Check training. This was made possible through the sponsorship of the Philippine Coral Reef Resources Assessment and Conservation (PhilCore) Program as part of its capacity-building initiative.

The PhilCore is a program of the DENR that serves as the preliminary stage for a national assessment of the status of Philippine reefs. This is a basic step towards better management of local reefs. In the months that followed, different parts of the training (e.g. buoyancy, classroom sessions, practical tests) continued at various venues such as a dive resort in Mabini, Batangas, as well as the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines. On January 24, 2014, the CMD-BMB team completed their training at De La Salle University’s Br. Alfred Shields FSC Marine Station at Lian, Batangas, becoming only the second Reef Check Philippines team coming from a national government agency, the first is detailed below. With this kind of national effort, the future of reef conservation in the country is now more promising.

\"\" The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is responsible for implementing laws within the jurisdiction of Philippine waters, ensuring the safety for seafarers, and performing rescue operations when necessary. In addition, they have been tasked to protect the marine environment and its resources. And so to further increase their knowledge about marine life, the Coast Guard Special Operations Group (CSOG) headed by Cdr. Inocencio “Jun” Rosario PCG underwent a Reef Check training last December 16-20, 2013 at the Ligaya Resort and Dive Center in Mabini, Batangas.

All twelve trainees successfully passed the three Reef Check EcoDiver modules, i.e. the reef fish, invertebrate, and substrate tests. This marked their certification as the very first Reef Check team coming from a national government agency as well as the first batch of PCG EcoDivers. According to Cdr. Rosario PCG, they look forward to having another batch certified in the 2nd quarter of this year.

– RC Philippines has now completed 69 surveys at its 61 established sites – most of them are found in Batangas and Palawan.
– To date, RC Philippines has 209 certified EcoDivers with prospects of training more this coming summer. Moreover, RC Philippines now has 12 registered trainers.
– The organization has conducted 24 trainings, most held simultaneously in the summer of 2013.

For more information or to get involved with Reef Check in the Philippines, please contact Carina Escudero.

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