Left to right: Dr. Edgardo Gomez, National Scientist and Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines-Marine Sciences Institute (UP-MSI); Mr. Jesse Pascasio, Director, National Coast Watch Center (NCWC); Capt. Gaudencio Collado, Jr., Chief of Fleet Staff, Philippine Navy (PN); Mr. Paul Raymund Cortes, Director, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-ASEAN Affairs Office; RAdm William Melad, Deputy Commandant, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); Capt. Benjamin B. Clancy, USN, Military Professor, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS); Ms. Gina Jamoralin, Consul General, Philippine Consulate-Honolulu; Ms. Teresa Almouela, Executive Director, DFA-Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office (MOAO); Mr. Jose Luis Alano, Undersecretary (NCWC); Mr. Louie Dane Merced, Foreign Affairs Research Specialist, FSI; Atty. Asis Perez, Director, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), represented by Mr. Louie Dane C. Merced, participated in the 7th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-sessional Meeting on Maritime Security (ISM-MS) held in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, on 31 March – 2 April 2015 .

The ISM-MS, which was co-chaired by the Philippines, United States, and Japan, focused on the critical and emerging issues in maritime security, safety of navigation, and marine environment protection. It discussed best practices and lessons learned in the region by providing updates on the projects and activities being undertaken by ARF members. The ISM also discussed the draft ARF Work Plan on Maritime Security to be tabled at the ARF Senior Officials Meeting and to be submitted for adoption in the ARF Ministerial Meeting later in the year.

Present in the meeting were some 90 participants from 18 ARF members. The adelegations consisted of officials from the foreign affairs and defense ministries, navies, coast guards, and fisheries bureaus, among others.

Dr. Gomez of UP-MSI delivers a presentation on the extent of physical destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea. During the meeting, he emphasized that coral reefs are crucial to the overall productivity of the South China Sea and its neighboring marginal seas, and that their destruction results in long-term economic and ecological losses for the region.