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Legarda Launches Phil. Marine Biodiversity Video Documentary

April 22, 2014

In a bid to raise awareness on the current condition of the country’s marine life and underwater resources, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today launched a video documentary on Philippine marine biodiversity.

“There has been too much destruction and desecration of our natural resources including our seas. We see bodies of water littered with various kinds of waste, but beyond the surface of these waters we discover greater despoliation of marine life,” Legarda lamented.

The Senator cited several instances of exploitation of marine resources in recent years.

In May 2011, poachers ravaged approximately 7,000 hectares of seabed within the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea. More than 21,000 pieces of black coral were harvested and 161 endangered turtles and other marine life were killed.

In 2013, the USS Guardian and a Chinese vessel both ran aground the Tubbataha Reef, causing damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Recently, the reported continuing practice of dynamite fishing in the waters of Siargao caused the killing of more than 20 dwarf sperm whales and dolphins.

“These kinds of exploitation of resources and destruction of marine life must stop. This video documentary on Philippine marine biodiversity is part of my continuing advocacy to educate and enlighten Filipinos about marine life, how it affects our own life and livelihood, what is at stake if we lose these resources and what we can and must do to protect our seas. There are about 1.6 million fisherfolk in the country whose families depend on marine resources to live. These families will be greatly affected by the degradation of our seas,” Legarda explained.

The video documentary is the third collaboration between Legarda and internationally acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza following “Buhos” and “Ligtas”.

Legarda said she was inspired to do the project after watching marine videos taken by underwater videographer Robert “Bobbit” Suntay. Jan Acosta, Boogs Rosales and Wowie Wong who are members of the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI) also shared their underwater photos for the project.

Suntay, co-founder and executive director of The Carewell Community Foundation, is also a member of NUDI. His works have been featured on various websites and news programs, including one on the CNN. His video on Bohol diving was part of the award-winning Philippine pavilion in Expo 2012 held in Yeosu, Korea.

“In Bobbit’s videos, we will see both the beauty of Philippine marine life and the unfortunate pollution underwater. These contrasting images show us what we are blessed with and what we could lose if we fail to act now,” Legarda said.

The project was done in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Copies of the video documentary will be distributed to schools, local government units, non-government organizations and other institutions to raise awareness on the current condition of the country’s marine life and encourage Filipinos to take action against marine degradation.

“We have timed the launch of this project on Earth Day to send a strong message that we need our seas to support life. We must find the much-needed balance in marine resource use while protecting our beautiful and bountiful marine ecosystems,” Legarda concluded.