Legarda Calls For Greater Protection Of World’s Oceans

June 7, 2016

In celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, Senator Loren Legarda called on the international community to act in a concerted manner to halt and reverse the damage to the world’s marine habitat brought by human activity.


“We have relied so much on the oceans for our existence – for food, for employment, for energy and for recreation. However, rapid population growth along with unsustainable marine practices such as overfishing, waste dumping, oil spills, among others, have seriously damaged marine habitats and life in the sea over the years,” Legarda stressed.


This year’s World Oceans Day calls for the prevention of plastic pollution in the ocean and promotes the use of reusable bags over disposable plastic bags.


According to the study, Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean, published in the journal Science, of the 275 million tons of plastic waste generated in 192 coastal countries worldwide in 2010, plastic debris entering the ocean was somewhere between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons.


The Philippines is the third top contributor with around 0.28-0.75 million metric tons of plastic marine waste annually, next only to China and Indonesia.


“Plastic can choke and poison marine species and damage marine ecosystems. Ultimately, it can affect us humans through the seafood that we eat. Thus, we must take this challenge seriously. The effective implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law is vital in this campaign,” said Legarda, principal author of the ESWM Law or Republic Act 9003.


The Senator also highlighted the need to address the impacts of climate change on oceans and marine ecosystems.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, said, “Studies have shown that oceans have acidified, having absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted, which has caused coral bleaching.”


A strong advocate of marine conservation, Legarda said carbon emissions reduction is crucial in protecting our oceans. Regrowing mangroves, seagrass beds and marshes, which absorb up to five times more carbon than tropical forests, will greatly help alleviate ocean acidification. These coastal ecosystems likewise serve as buffers for storm surges and tsunamis.


“A square kilometer of healthy coral reef can yield over 15 tons of seafood every year. But sea level rise, floods that damage fish farms, and the increased acidification of the oceans by 2050 could reduce farmed fish yield by 90%. The destruction of coral reefs would mean less fish population, which would translate to lower fish catch and lower protein for the people,” she said.


“We must adopt responsible fishing practices and sustainable marine management and conservation systems not only to improve fisheries yield but also to maintain ecological balance and to ensure that future generations will continue to benefit from our oceans,” Legarda concluded.