The Australian government, through its embassy in the Philippines, is extending assistance to the province of Palawan through research programs to help mitigate the effects of climate change to Palawan’s coral reefs and other major marine concerns of the province, Provincial Information Officer Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco said.
The offer was made by Australian Deputy Head of Mission to the Philippines and acting Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Moya Collett during her visit to the province where she met with Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates and some members of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) last Wednesday.
“The main purpose of her visit is more on research in partnership with PCSD because there are four universities in Australia that are offering scholarships and research funding for our coral reefs affected by climate change. Most of our coral reefs are experiencing coral bleaching because of of sudden rise in water temperature,” Cojamco said in a media interview, Thursday.
“And of course our problem with crown of thorns in the towns of El Nido and San Vicente which also affects the corals,” he added.
Cojamco explained that the Australian Embassy wants to partner with the provincial government for a research on how to address the problems on crown of thorns and how to re-propagate the affected corals.
He said Collet mentioned a technique which is being applied in Australia that can propagate corals and revive those that are dying.
“And in fact they already have an ongoing research in San Vicente regarding problems in corals there,”
Aside from these, the water quality in Coron and El Nido were also discussed where they will also conduct a research on how to resolve the problem on e-coli.
He said Australia will send a team to conduct study and assess the situation to find out possible solutions.
“She gave no particular date but said they already have a schedule to return before the end of the year to bring necessary equipments and infrastructure that will be based on the results of their preliminary research,” he said.
He also said the Australian government also expressed concern with the maritime security in the West Philippine Sea, particularly the fishermen that are affected by weather conditions in the area.
The ambassador asked about projects being implemented by the provincial government in the Kalayaan town that they want to be able to help. So we mentioned the sheltered port in Pag-asa Island which can be used by fishermen during weather disturbances,” Cojamco stated.
He also said there are other mini shelters that are being lined up to be constructed in four other islands in WPS where fishermen can also seek refuge.
“Because when weather suddenly turns bad, we cannot expect all fishermen to be able to reach Pag-asa Island. So we will have these mini shelter ports where there are prepositioned water and solar power,” he said.
“What we can expect is that they can survive with enough food and water supplies that will last for three days,” he said, adding that the Australian embassy is looking at how they will be able to extend assistance to the project.