11/19/2013 12:12 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Typhoon Haiyan Turns UBC Researchers Into Rescuers

A marine conservation group from the University of British Columbia is at the forefront of delivering aid to some of the most remote and hardest hit villages in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

"We find ourselves in unusual times," said director and co-founder of Project Seahorse, Amanda Vincent, in an interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition. 

Project Seahorse has helped communities in the Philippines build sustainable fisheries for the past 19 years but now many of the remote villages that the researchers worked closely with are in ruins.

"In...almost all the communities we've worked in, we've got devastation," said Vincent.

Danajon Bank in northern Bohol Province, Bantayan Island off the northern coast of Cebu Province, and Panay Island further west are three areas in desperate need after the two disasters.

"These areas are the most overlooked in terms of national and international relief and recovery," said Vincent.

But the conservation group has connections with local people on the ground in remote areas. 

Using their own marine conservation boats that survived the storm, as well as renting local cargo boats, Vincent's team of Filipino researchers are delivering bags of rice, clean water and medicine to those in need.

Eventually, Vincent says the long term goal is to help restore the fish nurseries that the coastal communities relied on for their sustainable fisheries, but right now she says the focus is providing immediate emergency relief for people desperate for basic needs.

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