Rising up to the challenge to explore the Benham Rise discussed by Dr. Cesar Villanoy was one of the topics presented by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Acquatic Resources and Research Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST) in its SIPAG ni Juan FORA on the opening date, July 24 of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City from July 24 to 28,2015.
The 2015 NSTW adopts the theme Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global Competitiveness. PCAARRD, on the other hand, adopts Strategic IndustryProgram for Agricultural Growth (SIPAG) ni Juan as its theme to bolster PCAARRD’s commitment to DOST’s Outcome One.
The Presentation of Benham Rise is only one of the many research and development initiatives on aquatic concerns supported by DOST-PCAARRD.
On April 12, 2012 the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations Adopted in full the country’s declaration the Benham Rise as part of the Philippines Extended continental Shelf This effectively gives the Philippines sovereignty over the Benham Rise Region which covers a seabed area of 135,506 sq. km.
The Philippine’s declaration over the Benham Rise has inevitably increased the area of the country’s marine bottom habitats. The Benham Bank is the shallowest area of the Rise and within this shallow area emerged the peak of an isolated seamount , one among over 30,000 seamounts found in the world’s oceans.
Seamount habitats can be biodiversity hatspots because of available substrates for macrophyte and invertebrate recruitment and settlement, abundance of food and the interaction of dynamic currents (e.g. the kuroshia) with the supply of nutrients from the deep.
PCAARRD recognizing the importance of knowing the resources available in this new Philippine Territory for future economic benefits funded the program “Exploration Mapping and Assessment of Deep Water Areas.
On May 3-18, 2014 Filipino scientist conducted the oceanographic exploration and surveys at the bank shallowest part with a depth of 50 meters on board the research vessel M/VBFAR
The team was backed up by researchers, scientist and seasoned dive specialists from the UP Mindanao, UP Baguio, Xavier University Ateneo de Manila University and from the local diving industry.
The pioneering research project initiated the assessment of the benthic marine biological features and resources of the Benham Bank Seamount contributing to the efforts of documenting deep-water biodiversity in the Philippines.
knowledge about these features and resources may also be linked to the productivity of the Benham Rise Region where fishing activities were done even before the country was awarded its claim.
Results of the surveys will input to the knowledge /status of the Philippines deep sea biodiversity resources planning management It will benefit the scientific community government line agencies tasked to manage the resource and the general public. It will also contribute to the effective management. and scientific understanding of this globally significant area.
Researchers have recorded different and large number of species of marine life and mineral deposits,Dr. Cesar Vilanoy said.(PScijourn MegaManila)