Legarda Renews Call for Protection of Coral Reefs on Ocean Month

May 29, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today reiterated her call for increased protection of the country’s coral reef system as the nation celebrates Ocean Month this May.


The theme for this year’s Month of the Ocean is “Stand Up, Save Our Reefs.”


“Even as the observance of Ocean Month is about to end, we should sustain efforts in protecting our oceans and marine ecosystems. The worsening state of the country’s marine ecosystems should be immediately addressed,” Legarda stressed.


According to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines, a typical square kilometer of healthy coral reef can produce about 30 to 40 metric tons of seafood every year.


Moreover, reefs are vital to the continuity of life in the sea. They protect coastlines from wave and storm erosion and function as nurseries and habitats for thousands of marine species. They are ultimately connected to mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and countless other ecosystems.


“The Philippines is located within the Coral Triangle, home to 76 percent of the world’s coral species and over 2,000 marine species. The destruction of our marine ecosystems will not only lead to the extinction of thousands of species but will also be detrimental to tourism, food supply, and sustenance and livelihood of our fisherfolk. This makes our responsibility over protecting our oceans even greater,” said Legarda.


Last month, Legarda launched the video documentary, Antique: Coral Restoration Project, which discusses coral restoration efforts in the municipalities of Anini-y and Pandan in the Province of Antique.


The documentary was produced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in partnership with the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), directed by Brillante Mendoza and features underwater videography and photography by members of the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI).


It highlights the Filipinnovation Coral Restoration Program and the Restoring Coral Reefs in Pandan, Antique for Improved Fisheries Productivity under the DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).


“These programs have already brought significant gains in the communities of Pandan and Anini-y by addressing food security and improving the competitiveness of tourism. We need to support these coral restoration programs in other areas in the country and strengthen community involvement in coral reef protection and preservation,” Legarda stressed.


The Senator has also been calling for the strict enforcement of relevant laws to stop illegal activities along coastal communities and on seas like poaching of endangered species, illegal and destructive fishing, and throwing of wastes.


Among the priority bills filed by Legarda is the proposed Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act under Senate Bill 100 which seeks to create a national comprehensive framework that will promote the sustainable development of coastal and marine environment and resources. This will provide the direction, support and guidance to local government units (LGUs) in the development of their respective coastal management programs.


“The degradation of our marine ecosystems has long ceased to be merely an environmental issue as it pushes poverty deeper in the coastal communities through loss of livelihood, vulnerability to natural hazards, hunger and even health problems. We must all work together to make our oceans benefit us in a sustainable manner,” Legarda concluded.