Posted by: Jimely Flores | April 27, 2018

My personal gain from the 3rd National Mangrove Conference

It is two-days of listening, learning and interacting with scientists, advocates, legal minds and community workers – all coming together into one big purpose of putting importance to the conservation of our mangrove and beach forests for humanities welfare.

Since I was just a participant I had the leisure of focusing on learning, interacting freely and not thinking on how should I simplify the knowledge so I could put it across without hurting egos. Its a selfish thought, yes, but its an honest need. For the academics and most science workers, its a venue to show off and share expertise, for me it is where I refresh and renew my connection to the machineries of science. Its not that I am having second thoughts in the niche I chose to build, I love what I do and believe in its importance.

Listening to all the minds I happened to encounter and those I seeked to really talk with, I had these general thoughts:

1. There is a need for more scientists to come out and speak for science. There was a big clamor on the need to proliferate the right and credible science.

2. Communicating science is a field of advocacy in itself.

3. Fake science attracts more disciples.

4. Accountability is not at all in place, and that is the reason why there is just no reason to exert more effort to follow the right but harder path.

5. Budget and programs are made without much thoughts and genuine monitoring and evaluation is not a priority.

The call to actions however continue to reverberate. Thanks to NGOs and its partners, and the unwavering faith of the few, the zest to put forward right science keeps on ringing louder and louder.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | April 22, 2018

From McKinsey: Leading with inner agility

From McKinsey Insights: Leading with inner agility

Posted by: Jimely Flores | April 18, 2018

Batanes Islands: the last frontier in danger

Finally I am fulfilling one of my local travel bucketlist, a learning visit to the northernmost province in the country, the Province Islands of Batanes. It is composed of several islands.

There are about 5 municipalities in the Island of Batan, Basco is the where the airport and most of the hotels are located, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan and Itbud are the other municipalities going south to east of the Island. Aside from the Island of Batan, the other two inhabited Island Municipalities are Sabtang and Itbayat. Sabtang is just 45 minutes boat travel from the port of Ivana a 45 minutes drive from Basco while Itbayat is a 2hours and 30minutes boat ride away from the port of Basco. The other Islands are uninhabited namely, one is Siayan.

The natural sceneries are awesome and their beauty and mysteries are mesmerizing. The scientist in me tends to think of the geological processes this present beauty went through, the biodiversity of flora and fauna residing in those flats, crevices and pools. All remained unexplored, unnamed and undiscovered as yet. People are still unaware of those gems of life unnoticed by the most occupied minds.

The commercialization of tourism in this last frontier has just begun. In 2014, tourists arrivals of just over 4 thousand rose by over 900 percent by 2017 to 30 thousand. With this development comes with hosts of massive constructions of new roads that cuts though the mountain sceneries and gorges around the island. For the capitalist development mindset, this is a blessing to the people and the economy.

But is it really?

Or it could be a curse, opening the destruction of its natural beauty, corruption of the Ivatans pure and innocent culture and the advent of a heavily polluted environment. Plastics and other dangerous substances are already starting to meld into the clean and pure environment. Sari sari stores are now filled with the junkfoods taking over the wakay-based (sweet potato) and banana-based snacks. Softdrinks and super sweetened juices are giving way to the native fern tea beverage. Gins and other super unfriendly alcohols are more available and accessible than the culturally produced “Purek” wine from natural fruits and vegetables.

The roads were obviously contructed by the edges of the rocky islands either through blasting, definitely destroying the lifeforms in and around the construction sites. Probably a collateral damage for development, is it really collateral? That would remain a question because studies were not done first before any of the final destruction were made.

Not happy with the existing landmass, reclamation is now seen around the islands, tidal flats are filled with soil just to increase the land mass, all in the name of what? For more hotels and other buildings?

I could only surmise. I hope what is happening to Boracay will not happen here. I hope our government officials are not so blind to the voice of caution and experiences. I hope we will stop from thinking of short term economic gains and look further beyond into the future.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | March 22, 2018

If its a consolation

Philippines as part of the center of biodiversity is proud of its natural resources. The Filipinos of the past were some of the luckiest end of the natural food chain.

In the marine environment, photos and paintings and oral accounts of its beauty and bounty are common encounters.

Civilization developed and these natural and common capital were seeds of free and available wealth for anybody to use for whatever purpose.

Not surprisingly, humans, known to possess boundless of greed, abused, overexploited, and raped nature.

And the history of Philippines’ fisheries is a perfect example of it.

If its a consolation, now that we are already at the bottom of the food chain, happy to be eating the sardine instead of the more tasty seafoods. Weak regulations to the extent of being instruments of greenwashing are branded in high heavens as the savior solutions to our overfishing problems. The real threat of overfishing remained unsolved that is too much fishing effort, and rampant respect to fake science from fake gurus claiming to be industry educated.

If its a consolation, sardine in can is a commodity which market price is controlled by the government further pushing the resources to the brim of collapse.

If its a consolation, law enforcement, patrolling is increasingly given attention despite the high carbon footprint.

If its a consolation subsidies are exponentially multiplying on the premise of humanitarian support to those displaced by so called strenghtened law enforcement.

Forget about correct science nor appropriate policies, because we are busy witn our consolation solutions.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | March 20, 2018

Philippine fisheries in crisis

This was written in 2003, 15 years ago. It painted the picture of an overfished Philippine fisheries resources. It called for better management framework. That is still the same call today but in a very urgent voice….

Hoping to have an update soon with more urgent call of policy reforms




Posted by: Jimely Flores | March 13, 2018

Because growth is change

I never followed the most trodden path, I never subscribed to the most popular belief, and few people are comfortable with my candidness.

If its time to go, I always do without thinking of the setbacks and never felt remorse afterward despite the poverty and reduction of friends.

Work is an extension of my principles and personality.

Fun is limited by the vocabulary of my mindset.

Friends are free to come and go without my prejudicial judgments.

I am free within the bounds of my human limitations.

When its time to create another path and explore other dimensions within my reach, I succumb to the calling of adventure

It is life and change is the only absolute constant

Sunset of today is always followed by the sunrise of tomorrow.

Guimaras 2017

Posted by: Jimely Flores | January 18, 2018

Covered Mango Fruits

Everytime I travel around Negros Oriental, I see mango trees decorated with nicely made newspaper envelopes. Being a farmer’s daughter, I know those are to protect the young fruits against insects and bugs but what engages my interest is how beautifully and meticulously the covers were done. Its even amazing that even the hardest-reached tip of the branches are beatifully made. But because most of those past travels were with groups of people, I never had the chance to ask, until now that the car is all by myself with a very engaging conversable nice driver. 

It turn out those mangoes were wrapped using tall thin stairs made from light materials probably bamboos. Usually those doing those beatiful jobs, are thin and nimble workers engaged by the contractor in the business of making mangoes bear fruit and flowers. The contractor in mutual agreement with the mango tree owner, is incharge of the entire job of making the tree financially fruitful. The owner will just take its 1/4 part of the net income (either in fruit or in cash) at the end of the harvest. 

I just thought how labor intensive it could be and yet during the peak season, the markets are flooded with mangoes that prices could go as low as 15.00 philippine pesos a kilo, a definite loss to the farmers. One of the disadvantages of natural farming practice in a market-ruled society. A definite misalign of cultures that policy makers and advocates should look upon with critical eyes and mind. 

I am advocating price floor policy in all agricultural and fisheries products  at the producers level and let go of the suggested retail price policy at the consumers level. This is the only way to solve the problem of inequitability.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | January 3, 2018

Thankful and Touched

Tis wonderful end and start of the year. I am so blessed with the people physically around me everyday and family members who are faraway but whose caring spirits are always with me. 

I am very grateful to all the blessings, friends and co-workers whose thoughts and kindness touched me to core. Thank you so much and in humility I pray that these friends will be blessed more and more and the protector wings of the Universe be upon them.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | November 21, 2017

On Reference Points: is “e-value” the right one? Maybe not.

It came as a shock to hear that “e-values” are being pushed as Reference Points for the management of Philippines’ fisheries resources. Reference Point for fisheries management should be tangible, understood by all concerns and should be biologically, ecologically, socially or economically sound and realistic. In advance countries where reference points had been used for fisheries management, reference points could either biomass or stock abundance, level of fishing effort to maintain healthy biomass and/or optimum economic yield that is still grounded to the status of the stocks underwater. For a Reference Point to be useful, it should always be directly hinged to the status of the stocks. 

Also there should be Performance Indicators related to how the harvest control measures are succesful in maintaining the established Reference Points. Performance indicators could be catch trends, market prices and trends, or exploitation rate or its empirical equivalent the “e-values.” The weakness of an “e-value” even as a performance indicator is, it could not be a predictive indicator, it is an after-event proof – sort of a post-mortem fact. When the result comes, it is already late, the policy it creates are reactive while we need a predictive indicator. 

The reason of some that the e-value is the only level of capacity the science workers could do is an insult to the regional NSAPs. They are better off than just that, they just need better guidance, their central leaders just need to open up the gate of collaboration. 

I am happy to learn of the developments. Finally NFRDI is opening their doors to other thoughts, other ideas, other experts whose only intention is to help. Thank you for the ray of hope. Change is indeed dawning.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | November 21, 2017

    Flaws of the closed fishing season Philippines style

Closed fishing is among the already proven and tested regulatory measures for fisheries management thus it is not a new idea. Then how could it be that the policy is still wrong? For a tools of policies to be efficient, really has to consider its basic science, economic and social environment and even governance competence of the stakeholders. Without considering those basic truths, policies could look very perfect on paper but will never be implementable and effective.

For this specific closed fishing season policy in the Philippines, the flaws are in the facts that:

1. The species are slightly migratory (not as highly as the tunas though), focal areas of spawning changes from time to time depending on many natural and anthropogenic factors. A fixed area and season may not be the best option even for a reason of easier policy making processes. Ways forward is to evaluate the policy. Evaluation should be hinged on the biological traits of the species and ecological processes around the species, taking into consideration the social and economic direct and indirect impact of the policy. 

2. The existing closed fishing policy is not genuinely solving the problem of overfishing. It is just a temporary solution – very much akin to patching a salonpass in a painful area with the main problem is actually osteoporosis. The overfishing problem due to the basic “race to fish, tragedy of the common” still happens immediately after the closing. In essence defying the very main purpose of the closing.

3. Are the months and the place identified are actually the most significant area to be protected. Why is it that data before the policy indicated that those months are also the lean season in that specific area (Figure 1)? That the perception of “successful compliance and law enforcement” is not genuinely true, that during that season and in that specific area, catch and thus fishing is historically low as most are shifting to different greener part of the fishing ground? Did we look closely to the data and did we really listen to other people’s ideas. I know few had offered better ideas but popularity won. But numbers never lie.

Data source: Dacanay, J. 2009. Sustainability of the sardine industry in Zamboanga: a bioeconomic approach

4.. The race to fish immediately after the closed fishing season depressed the market price, creating market distortion. The argument of a successful closed fishing season due to increase in fish storages is wrong. The increase is not due to increase fish abundance in the stocks but is just a temporary abundance due to the temporary decrease of fishing effort.

5. The closed fishing season did not consider the status of the stocks, the biological traits of the stocks, the species biological response to the environment – in short it is not based on facts and the “precautionary principle” was not even correctly applied.

Is it too late? No, the industry and BFAR need only to listen to the weaker voice of reason, that from the fisheries scientists, and work together for a more science-based policies. 

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