Pag-asa Island, one of the islands in the West Philippine Sea (file photo)

The UP Marine Science Institute has sent a team of scientists to Pag-asa Island to help improve the Pag-asa Island Research Station (PIRS) which will be used to conduct oceanographic and biodiversity surveys in the territory.

Aboard the MY Panata is the team of UP marine scientists including Palaweño scientist Dr. Deo Florence Onda, Dr. Cesar Villanoy, Dr. Fernando Siringan, and Dr. Hazel Arceo (UP Cebu), as well as their research associates.

According to the UP-MSI, the expedition aims to improve the Pag-asa Island Research Station (PIRS) which will be used to further the oceanographic and biodiversity surveys in the territory.

Repairs and installation of new features, including an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for tracking the movement of ships in the area will also be conducted.

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PIRS was first established in 1997 initially built for research on Tubbataha Reefs. However, through agreements made with the Department of National Defense, it was moved to its current location in the municipality of Kalayaan.

The structure had not been occupied since its inauguration in 2000 thus its damaged state.

Through this restoration project, the value of a marine research center in a place like the West Philippine Sea is highlighted.

According to Dr. Fernando Siringan, the project leader who is also a professor at UP MSI and a NAST academician, in a published article in the UP-MSI website, having PIRS in a functioning state is important in order to understand the West Philippine Sea’s marine resources and their proper utilization.

“Since the area is geographically isolated, many of its features are different from the mainland and neighboring islands, so there is much more to discover,” the article reads.

Apart from the restoration, the team will also be conducting relevant studies and researches to help in the development of the island.

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is a student-intern reporter of Palawan News and is currently taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies at University of the Philippines Visayas. She covers special reports in tourism, business and other human interest stories. Her interests includes singing, painting, and volunteering in civic organizations like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.