Several scientific studies conducted and published from 2005-2013 drew the same conclusion: THE PHILIPPINES IS THE EARTH’S EPICENTER OF MARINE BIODIVERSITY AND EVOLUTION! The Philippines is among the 18 mega diverse countries in the world, and one of only six (6) countries in the Coral Triangle, the apex of globally-important marine zone equivalent to the Amazon rainforest with over 3,000 species of fish, 505 species of corals, 42 species of mangroves and 16 species of seagrass.
Figure 1. Patterns of species richness from range overlap raster data from 10,446 species. Each change in color represents an increase or decrease of 82 species (40 total classes or a 2.5% change per class). (A) Pattern of species distribution in the entire Indo-Pacific region. The top 10%for the highest species richness is found in the Coral Triangle (marked in red, pink, and yellow in panel B, with decreasing increments of species richness indicated by lighter shades), and the remaining decreasing increments of total species richness are indicated by lighter shades of blue, (B)The top 10% (shades of red), 20% (dark yellow) and 30% (light yellow) of concentration of species is in the Coral Triangle, with Philippines as the epicenter, (C) All fishes showing the top 1% of species richness (white); (D) Molluscs and crustaceans showing the top 10% of species richness (shades of red); (E) Habitat-forming species (corals, seagrasses, and mangroves) showing the top 10% of species richness (shades of red).doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0056245.g001
However, degradation of the Philippines’ marine and terrestrial ecosystems has been widespread since the mid-20th century due to exploitation and destructive methods of extraction, sometimes leaving irreversible damage in the process. Other anthropogenic root causes include indiscriminate land and coastal development, poor or lack of waste management systems and deforestation. The consequences of these human actions have been evident in increasing severity and impact of natural disasters on humans, as well as reduction in the biological productivity of ecosystems for the benefit of people and animals alike.
In 2012, the Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI) entered into partnership with Western Philippines University (WPU) to upgrade the university’s hatchery and marine station in Binduyan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan to improve the facility’s production capacity of abalone and trochus shells for purposes of restocking reefs, improve research and conduct trial community grow-out. The project, named String-of-Pearls, is part of MFI’s wider marine biodiversity conservation program spanning north Palawan, Oriental Mindoro and Batangas City, involving establishment or expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs), MPA management strengthening, social mobilization of communities and socio-economic improvement interventions. Phase one (1) and two (2) upgrades were undertaken and completed in 2013 and 2015 respectively and initial restocking of native abalone and trochus species were conducted in reefs of Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape (MSPLS) national park in Taytay, Palawan starting 2015.
In 2017, three (3) giant clam species were included in the production under the guidance of late National Scientist Dr. Edgardo Gomez, a former MFI trustee, who likewise confirmed in mid-2017 the existence of the Philippines’ true native Tridacna gigas giant clam species at Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, once declared extinct in the 1980’s by himself. From 2019 to 2020, several north Palawan sites have been initially re-stocked with Tridacna squamosa, Hippopus hippopus and the native Tridacna gigas giant clam species, together with abalone shells, in reefs of effectively-managed marine protected areas (MPAs).