February 28, 2024

Innovative data-driven technologies are empowering Filipino coastal communities by enabling them to make better informed decisions on when and how to use marine resources.

An advocate of sustainable fishing practices, Dr. Aletta Concepcion T. Yñiguez of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Science’s Marine Science Institute (UPD-CS MSI), has been working closely with small-scale fishers and government agencies to help rural fisherfolk with technologies developed by UP scientists.

Yñiguez and her fellow MSI researchers created ARAICoBeH (A Rapid Assessment Instrument for Coastal Benthic Habitats), an inexpensive tool for taking underwater photos of endangered areas such as coral reefs without needing to dive.

She also spearheaded HABhub (Harmful Algal Bloom Hub), an online platform that facilitates the detection and reporting of algal blooms, which could threaten both the lives and livelihoods of affected fisherfolk.

HABhub also provides robust early-warning systems that would allow for more proactive mitigation and enhanced understanding of these phenomena.

These and other innovations and insights from Yñiguez were the focus of a recent iStories webinar, hosted by the UPD-CS.

“To ensure the sustainable utilization and management of ocean resources, it is critical that observational, monitoring and decision-support tools are in place to provide concrete, science-based information and management. But the technologies, tools and capacity for these are sorely lacking,” Yñiguez said at the event.

“Our present efforts help bridge this gap through interdisciplinary collaborations to develop cost-effective sensors that automate ocean observation, building ocean data repositories and models for understanding, forecasting and decision-support,” she added.

For her work, Yñiguez was bestowed The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (Towns) award in 2022. Given by the Towns Foundation, Inc., the prestigious award honors Filipinas 21 to 45 years old who have contributed greatly to Philippine society in their chosen fields.

The iStories webinar is a series of monthly innovation-themed talks, storytelling, and activities featuring local and international scientists. The initiative aims to ignite the creativity and inventiveness of young scientists not just from UPD-CS but from other institutes inside and outside UP. – Press release