Dr. Jurgene Primavera



Jurgenne Primavera has BS Zoology, PhD Marine Science (University of the Philippines Diliman), and MA Zoology (Indiana University) degrees. She taught at the Mindanao State University, but a rebellion made her growing family flee to relativepeace in Iloilo, central Philippines and a job with the SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department. From her 1980s studies, she rang early warning bells on the perils of unplanned aquaculture. Her research shifted to the mangrove-penaeid shrimp connection and mangrove-friendly aquaculture for which she was conferred a PhD in Science honoris causa by Stockholm University in 2004. The citation read:

“… she has shown that mangroves are key areas for recruitment of fish and shrimp and that development of conventional shrimp farming may have far reaching negative economic and social implications …[To] create sustainable alternatives she is now doing research on … integrated farming of shrimp, fish, crabs and mangrove.”

Over almost five decades, Dr. Primavera has added to the body of scientific knowledge and raised the profile of aquaculture, mangroves, beach forests and the Agusan Marsh not only in the country but also worldwide by means of ~140 scientific papers, reviews, manuals, books and other publications (mostly as senior author, and 50% peer-reviewed), including papers in Science and Nature, and the Handbook of Mangroves in the Philippines – Panay and Beach Forests and Mangrove Associates in the Philippines, winners of the Outstanding Book Award of the National Academy of Science and Technology in 2005 and 2012, respectively; popular articles in newspapers, magazines, e.g., Philippine Daily Inquirer; interviews and other coverage by national and international (USA, Sweden, UK) radio/TV/print/ online media; and training courses on aquaculture, mangroves and beach forests. The critical role of coastal protection provided by mangrove-beach forest greenbelts, among many other functions, has been highlighted by the horrific 2004 tsunami and 2013 Typhoon Haiyan.

She has also given ~280 keynote lectures, presentations, panel contributions in national and international conferences, seminars, consultations and meetings on aquaculture, fisheries, mangroves, and the environment; organized various conferences/workshops (e.g., National Mangrove Conference, Guimaras Oil Spill, Agusan Marsh); served as officer/member/trustee of environmental organizations (e.g., Philippine Association of Marine Science, Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation); and undertaken consultancy work for UN-FAO/UNDP, Asian Development Bank and other international agencies.

She was elected to the Swedish Royal Academy on Agriculture and Forestry, Royal Belgian Academy for Overseas Sciences, Phi Kappa Phi, and other honor societies. Among her awards are the Dr. Elvira Tan Memorial Award (PCAMRD) for Best Paper in Aquaculture/Fisheries (1988, 1994, 2000 and 2004); Quadrennial General Assembly Award of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (2006); and a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation (2004). She was named Scientist Emerita of SEAFDEC/AQD upon retirement in 2007, a Time Magazine Hero of the Environment and DOST Men and Women of Science Awardee both in 2008, a University of the Philippines Distinguished Alumni Awardee in Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in 2009, and membership to the National Academy of Science and Technology in 2015.

Approaching the end of an active and fruitful career in science, she tends a frontyard nursery of native plants, protects a 20-year old rehabilitated forest in Miagao, Iloilo, and continues to restore another mini-forest in nearby Oton. Presently she is Chief Mangrove Scientific Advisor of the Zoological Society of London. Since 2009, ZSL Philippines has rehabilitated degraded seafront mangroves and abandoned ponds, and helped establish ecoparks to protect remaining mangroves in Panay, Guimaras, Cebu and Bohol. These initiatives apply science-based protocols to counter decades-old, ecologically incorrect practices of mangrove planting by convenience. More recently, she led a joint academe-NGO survey team that assessed post-Haiyan mangrove damage and recovery in Eastern Samar and Leyte.