Edgardo Gomez, Ph.D.
Edgardo Gomez died in 2019. Gomez was emeritus professor at the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines. He had more than 30 years of experience studying coral reefs, marine ecology, mariculture, education, and resource management in his native Philippines. Gomez used his Pew fellowship to establish demonstration coral reef reserve/restoration sites in the Philippines that highlight opportunities to increase productivity as well as the physical and aesthetic condition of reefs. He transplanted coral fragments and cultured giant clams to enhance damaged reef areas and reestablish natural breeding populations of clams with the goal of attracting more fish and macro-invertebrates and increasing biodiversity. Transportation of giant clams proved to be a delicate operation with many obstacles, including road conditions, the high costs of chartering vessels of sufficient size, and the weather, but the team identified methods to ensure better survival rates. One solution involved setting up grow-out arrangements for juvenile giant clams by partners in several locations, with future reseeding planned locally once the clams reach the appropriate size. Therefore, Gomez and his team trained workers from partner organizations in how to care for the young clams. Collaboration with local communities and nongovernmental organizations, together with education about the need for intervention in the coral reef ecosystem, was important for the success of the project.