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Opening Remarks of Senator Loren Legarda Launch of Philippine Marine Biodiversity Video Documentary

April 22, 2014

Opening Remarks of Senator Loren Legarda
Launch of Philippine Marine Biodiversity
Video Documentary

22  April 2014 – Museum of the Filipino People, Manila

Today we launch a video documentary on Philippine marine biodiversity as we celebrate Earth Day—a most opportune time to highlight the need to protect our natural resources including those within our seas.

Our country is blessed with rich biodiversity. But the way we have lived in the past decades and our failure to protect our natural resources have caused more stress on our already threatened biodiversity and deteriorating environment.

 

We have one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems, characterized by extensive coral reefs, sea-grass beds and dense mangroves.

 

In 2008, we were 6th in global fish and aquaculture production.  We were 4th in 1985.

 

The Philippines was the second largest seaweed producer in the world, next to China, and dislodged only in 2007 by Indonesia.

 

These figures suggest we are rich in fisheries and coastal resources as a nation, and yet, hunger affected 3.9 million families in the last quarter of 2013.[1]

 

This alarming irony becomes even more glaring with the fact that while we are rich in fisheries and coastal resources, among the poorest in our country are coastal communities with 4 of 10 coastal residents living under poverty line.[2]

 

Furthermore, our per capita fish consumption has declined from 38 kilograms per year in 1993 to 33.6 kilograms per year in 2005-2007.[3] This is due to the reduced availability of seafood. This affects not only food sufficiency but also the nutrition of our citizens.

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) estimates that 80 percent of the animal protein requirement of Filipinos comes from our seas. Our mangrove forests alone produce almost 108 million kilograms of fish annually.

 

Moreover, there are about 1.6 million fisherfolk in the country whose families depend on marine resources to live.[4]

 

We need our seas to live. This great dependence on our seas should already push us to strengthen efforts to stop the decline of our marine ecosystems. The most vital step in marine conservation is to first educate the public.

 

I have collaborated once more with a great craftsman, Director Brilliante Mendoza, to create a documentary that will show the nation and the world what we will stand to lose if we do not care enough.

 

We are thankful to Mr. Robert Suntay and his colleagues Jan Acosta, Boogs Rosales and Wowie Wong from the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI) for sharing their beautiful marine videos and photos for this project.

 

We also thank the DENR and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) for their support to this project.

 

I would also like to thank Greenpeace who lent their video and the case study of Apo Island.

 

As we celebrate Earth Day today I enjoin everyone to act towards environmental protection and show our dedication in helping the Philippines attain a sustainable future.

 

Our lives are linked closely with the ocean and with the richness of its resources. This documentary is our commitment to marine conservation, which begins when Filipinos are made aware about the urgency of its protection.

 

Thank you and good morning.

 


[1] Fourth Quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey

[2] Philippine Environment Monitor 2005 on Coastal and Marine Resource Management

[3] Greenpeace: Roadmap to Recovery of Philippine Oceans

[4] Greenpeace: Roadmap to Recovery of Philippine Oceans