Ocean re­sources

Panay News - - OPINION -

MERRY month of May is not only a month of fi­es­tas. Do you know that it is also the “Month of the Ocean”? Pres­i­den­tial Procla­ma­tion No. 57 is­sued in 1999 made it so to stress the im­por­tance of con­ser­va­tion, pro­tec­tion and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of our coastal and ocean re­sources. Sounds too broad?

We can be more spe­cific and start with the cor­rals. Can’t we de­velop a ma­jor marine con­ser­va­tion pro­gram, par­tic­u­larly on co­ral restora­tion, like the Na­tional Green­ing Pro­gram? We have al­ways heard of cam­paigns for the pro­tec­tion of our forests. But in terms of ecosys­tems, it looks like we do not give as much at­ten­tion and re­sources to our marine ecosys­tem — our corals, sea­grass beds, tidal flats.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR), the Philip­pines has 240 mil­lion hectares of marine area based on the 200-mile ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone. The coun­try’s land area is only 30 mil­lion hectares. Ideally, co­ral reefs in the 60 mil­lion hectares of marine area around the coun­try, the area which is con­sid­ered TO­MOR­ROW, pos­si­ble for fish­ing in­clud­ing sea­grass beds, tidal flats, should be in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.

Since co­ral reefs are the food bas­ket for the fish, the de­struc­tion of co­ral reefs would mean less fish pop­u­la­tion, which would trans­late to lower fish catch and lower protein for the peo­ple. It is es­ti­mated that 80 per­cent of the animal protein re­quire­ment of Filipinos come from our seas. DENR rightly noted that we are heav­ily re­liant on the bounty of healthy oceans and seas for food, liveli­hood, nav­i­ga­tion, re­cre­ation, trade, and for sus­te­nance. We must there­fore re­al­ize that the degra­da­tion of our marine ecosys­tems is a gut is­sue and pushes poverty deeper in the coastal com­mu­ni­ties through loss of liveli­hood, vul­ner­a­bil­ity to nat­u­ral haz­ards, hunger and even health prob­lems.

As stew­ards of na­ture, we must all work to­gether to bring back our co­ral reefs and the whole marine ecosys­tem to ex­cel­lent con­di­tion so that our seas can ben­e­fit us in a sus­tain­able man­ner. We can start by be­ing re­spon­si­ble with our garbage and re­frain from dump­ing it in our seas or oceans.

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