The Mindanao State University – General Santos City (MSU-GSC) Campus, in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), held the first ever Mindanao Lakes and Rivers Summit at Sarangani Highlands, Tambler, General Santos City recently.
The summit aimed to provide initial mobilization framework to present the conservation and management status of their respective freshwater ecosystems to niche scientists and researchers studying limnology (lakes) and potamology (rivers), and to relevant LGU and government agencies in Mindanao.
The summit themed, “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Lake and River Ecosystems in Mindanao” was spearheaded by Dr. Jaime Namocatcat, Summit Convenor and Project Leader of DOST-PCAARRD Lake Sebu Project.
The activity was attended by 57 participants from the academe, different government agencies, non-government organizations, private sectors, and LGUs.
Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, PCAARRD Acting Executive Director, said that the conduct of the activity was an opportune time to disseminate current researches, share experiences on Mindanao lakes and rivers, and organize a consortium to advance and sustain freshwater ecosystem conservation and management in Mindanao. Dr. Ebora’s message was delivered by Dr. Dalisay DG. Fernandez, director of the Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division (IARRD) of PCAARRD.
Moreover, Ebora shared that pollution, siltation, and overfishing were the major problems affecting the conservation of our freshwater ecosystems. Also, unabated release of mine tailings and the heavy erosion of watershed areas had greatly contributed to the deterioration of rivers in many areas of the country.
Papers presented included: “Overview of the 1st Mindanao Lakes Conference,” by Dr. Namocatcat of the Mindanao State University, General Santos City (MSU-GSC) Campus; “PCAARRD-IARRD’s Program on Lakes,” by Dr. Fernandez; “Mind the Gap: Freshwater Research in Mindanao vis-à-vis the Philippines,” by Dr. Francis Magbanua of the University of the Philippines Diliman; and “Fish Foraging Habits, Trophic Placement, and Parasite Biodiversity can be Powerful Tools in the Conservation and Management of Fisheries in Philippines Aquaculture Lakes,” by Dr. Jonathan Carlo A. Briones from UST.
Other papers presented were: “Integrative Co-Management Framework of River Tourism of Laguna: Case Study of Botocan – Balanac River,” by Anabel Hierras-Garcia of the Gepas Environmental Consultancy and Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines (SWAPP); “Application of the Integrated Lake Basin Management Approach in Laguna de Bay,” by Adelina Santos-Borja of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA); “Conservation and Management Approaches for Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary: DENR Experience,” by Emmilie T. Ibonia of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; and “The Climate-Responsive Integrated River Basin Master Plan for Buayan-Malungon River Basin,” by Benjamin Alangca of the Conservation and Development Division of DENR XII.
Meanwhile, papers presented on Mindanao lakes were: “Lake Mainit: Status and Updates” by Meljan Demetillo of Caraga State University (CSU); “Aquatic Researches in Agusan Marsh: What has been done so far?” by Dr. Jocelyn Jumawan of CSU; “Dissolved Oxygen Profiles during Fishkill and Non-Fishkill Events in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato,” by Dr. Jaime A. Namocatcat of MSU-GSC Campus; “Hydrologic Characterization and Modeling in Lake Watersheds,” by Bryan Clark B. Hernandez of UP Diliman; “Impacts of Cage Farming of Tilapia in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato” by Ronald Sombero of MSU-GSC; and “Water Quality Index and Exploratory Analysis Methods for River Quality Characterization,” by Dr. Edward R. Lapong of MSU-GSC.
The activity was followed by the signing of the summit declaration during the fellowship night and a post-summit eco tour of Lake Sebu, Lake Seloton, Lake Lahit, and the Seven Falls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
MSU-GSC Campus Associate Professor Dr. Camille B. Concepcion-Silvosa presented and synthesized the outputs of the activity. She emphasized the importance of working together to achieve tangible, measurable outputs, the need to be empowered and empower partners and use each other’s expertise, background and biases, and the need to promote and reinforce relationships with different government agencies such as DOST, DENR, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units (LGUs), and academic institutions to move onward together to further aquatic sciences and limnology in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao.
Preserving the lakes and rivers and protecting them is the key to food security and goes beyond economic benefits. It is hoped that all the visuals and knowledge gained from the summit inspire the participants to work continuously for the conservation of lakes and rivers not only in Mindanao but also in the whole country.