‘Australian assistance in WPS reef restoration possible’
MANILA, Philippines — Australia, which has an existing maritime restoration program with the Philippines, could also assist the country in restoring the destroyed coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in Rozul Reef.
“I think there is potential for it,” said Australian Acting Ambassador Moya Collett in an ambush interview on Wednesday when asked if Rozul Reef could be included in the coral reef restoration efforts.
Collett also noted that Australia and the Philippines could further “explore” the possibility of repairing the corals in Rozul Reef under the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty, which led to the range of initiatives including cutting edge scientific research to restore coral reefs, geospatial marine mapping, among others.
Both countries are maintaining coral restoration facilities in Pangasinan, Zambales and Palawan, which produced promising results, according to Collett.
“Bilaterally, Australia has been working with the Philippines for years on a range of initiatives to protect our oceans, including cutting edge scientific research to restore coral reefs, geospatial marine mapping, efforts to reduce marine plastics, and oil spill response and preparedness,” she said in her speech.
The Philippine Coast Guard recently shared footage and images of destroyed coral reefs in Rozul Reef, which is located inside the country’s exclusive economic zone that is frequented by suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels.
Pangasinan coral project
In Pangasinan, a team of marine scientists from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute and Australia’s Southern Cross University has grown millions of coral larvae through coral larval reseeding in laboratories and in open water floating pens and tanks, according to Collett’s video presentation.
These coral larvae are then delivered onto the reefs in large underwater mesh tents, leading to the restoration of coral reefs “the size of swimming pools.”
“Australian and Filipino scientists are working together to develop an innovative coral reproduction technique that is showing extraordinary results: large areas of coral reef have been restored, they have the potential to be more climate resilient, and we are seeing fish returning to areas where former reef systems had died,” she added.