IEMS Director on Threatened Marine Resources: ‘Asianize CRM’

IEMS Director on Threatened Marine Resources: ‘Asianize CRM’

Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (IEMS) Director Dr. Hilconida P. Calumpong highlighted the need for closer regional cooperation among academic institutions in addressing threats to marine resources at the 44th Annual Federation of Institutions for Freshwater and Marine Sciences (FIMFS) held late last month in Cebu City.

Dr. Calumpong was one of only two plenary speakers in the three-day conference. She focused on “Asianizing CRM” (coastal resource management), discussing a program being undertaken by IEMS in generating more experts in the Asian region to undertake research and conservation work in CRM.  

She first presented a scenario of the extent of damage to mangrove, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems both locally and globally, and shared prevailing threats to coastal and marine biodiversity. She noted human activities, overfishing and destructive fishing, coastal development and water-shed-based pollution as among those that contribute to the decline of coastal and marine resources and habitats.

A CRM expert who also serves as consultant to international organizations, Dr. Calumpong stressed the need for conservation and the role of academic institutions in bridging the gap. The growing threats, she said, provide a picture of the need for more to be involved in undertaking conservation and related activities that are both scientific and practical. She tackled the importance of academic institutions in Asia to collaborate in the areas of conservation work, which she said, can be facilitated with enough number of individuals trained in CRM.

Dr. Calumpong shared a program that IEMS is rolling out on a grant from the United Board for Christian Higher Education. It focuses on training faculty in marine science leading towards the granting of graduate degrees, and involves three countries: Indonesia, India and Philippines.

Implemented among four universities in the three countries, the program binds resources and expertise of the partner institutions in the design and offering of a joint curriculum in marine biology, marine fisheries and coastal resource management.

The “hybrid program”, which will utilize internet technology in assisting those abroad to pursue a graduate degree in CRM, will be pilot-tested next year.

This collaborative program, Dr. Calumpong explained, resonates with the thrusts of academic institutions as source of knowledge on marine and coastal ecosystems, developers of new paradigms and models, and a lobbying bloc for effective national policies.

It is only when there is collaboration in the Asian region taking place, she said, that the goals of CRM in developing coastal zones in ecologically sound and sustainable manner can be achieved. This, in turn, allows for natural regeneration of resources and extends benefits to future generations.

Apart from being a plenary speaker, Dr. Calumpong also led the 11-member delegation from Silliman that included Dr. Janet Estacion, Coordinator of IEMS' Graduate Studies, who won third place under the Poster Paper category for her work with IEMS graduate student Francis Argente entitled “Population Dynamics Of the Nailon Clam, Paphia textile (Gmelin, 1792) in Zamboanga del Norte, Southern Philippines”.

IEMS post-graduate student Oliver Paderanga also gave two presentations under the Competing Papers category, while the rest delivered non-competing oral presentations on seagrass, mangrove, coral, plankton and fish topics.

The annual FIMFS Convention is a venue for “collegial sharing of output from various researches in marine and freshwater sciences and strives to mentor young and budding scientists”.