Oceana welcomes marine research offer on PH Rise

OCEANA, an international organization focused solely on conservation of the oceans, has welcomed the offer of Silliman University in Dumaguete City to participate in the marine research in the Philippine Rise, previously known as Benham Rise.

Danny Ocampo, oceans campaign manager of Oceana-Philippines, on Tuesday evening, March 20, expressed gratitude to the offer made by Dr. Hilconida Calumpong of the Silliman University’s Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (SU-IEMS) during the opening of the Philippine Rise exhibit at the university.

“I think it is important for research to be open to all academic institutions to be able to include other disciplines and experts in the field,” said Ocampo.

Oceana joined the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the University of the Philippines during the 2016 expedition to the Philippine Rise.

Benham Bank, which forms part of the Philippine Rise, the shallowest portion and is about 50 meters deep with an area of some 17,000 hectares, was the subject of the expedition as it has vast corals and rich marine ecosystem.

Ocampo said Oceana does not have any plan to go back to the Philippine Rise, even as the non-profit international ocean conservation and advocacy group continues to rally for support to protect the area.

He assured that Oceana could help SU-IEMS by linking them with other academic institutions.

“I think they can reach out to UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Baños) and other groups planning to back to the Philippine Rise,” he added.

Calumpong pointed out during a forum on Monday that they were involved in research in the West Philippine Sea.

She said with the Philippine Rise, “We would also like to be involved in the research because it seems like it is a very important source for the tuna industry in General Santos.”

“And there are always institutions who have limited capacities but I think we can all contribute (to research),” Calumpong added.

Silliman University president Dr. Ben Malayang III called on politicians to protect the Philippine Rise, noting it should be a matter of national interest.

The Philippine Rise exhibit, which started on March 19, will run until the end of the month at Silliman University’s Anthropology Museum. (PNA)

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