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Silliman scientist trains fishery leaders

Dr. Rene Abesamis (right) of Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management trained South Negros Alliance of Fishers president Neil Montemar and Tony Yocor, a former Zamboanguita coastal resources management officer, on how to do fish surveys*

Dr. Rene Abesamis of the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management in Dumaguete City trained local fishery leaders in south Negros on how to conduct their own fish surveys using an app, for them to independently monitor marine protected areas (MPAs) and manage fish resources.

A marine scientist specializing in MPAs, Abesamis was chosen by the Fish Right Program of USAID and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to lead the training, a press release from Silliman said.

The training aims to help develop the capacity of stakeholders, such as leaders of fishing communities, to conduct their own fish surveys. This will allow fish density and biomass in an MPA to be monitored regularly, and will help check if an MPA is still effective in promoting the recovery of the fish population.

Training local stakeholders in building their capacity to implement the ecosystem approach to fisheries management is a core strategy of the USAID-BFAR Fish Right Program, the press release said.

Aside from developing the stakeholders’ EAFM skills, the training also aimed to field-test the “MPA-FishMApp” or MPA Fish Monitoring App, a simple web-based application designed to help citizen scientists to easily capture, store, and visualize fish census data.

Abesamis first spent over three weeks conducting fish surveys with the trainees to measure fish biomass in select MPAs in south Negros before training them on how to use the app.

The app was developed to simplify and improve fish data collection and reporting, another important element of EAFM.

Currently, the app is still in the field testing phase. It will be available for wider use by August, the press release said.

Abesamis partnered with a team from the Center for Informatics at the University of San Agustin-Iloilo to develop the app, with support from the Australia Alumni Awards and Engagement Program of the Australian Embassy.

Abesamis, also an adjunct professor at the SU Institute of Environment and Marine Sciences, completed his Master’s degree and PhD in Marine Biology at James Cook University in Australia.

Silliman joined the Fish Right Program in 2019 as one of its implementing institutions to establish and strengthen sustainable fishing in south Negros, the press release added.*

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