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Legarda Renews Call for Protection of Oceans and Marine Resources

July 11, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her support to policies that will protect oceans and marine resources as she underscored the important role of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) in the sustainable development of coastal areas in the country.

Speaking at the 20th anniversary celebration of PEMSEA, Legarda said that the Philippines, being an archipelago, benefits from the abundance of marine resources but also faces the increasing threats of climate change such as sea level rise and weather in extremes.

“This challenge should be addressed with the legislative and executive branches’ partnership in finding ways to protect and conserve the country’s marine resources and prevent illegal activities that destroy the ecosystem,” she said.

Legarda also said that the worsening state of the country’s marine ecosystems, including the restoration of the damaged portion of the Tubbataha Reef, should be immediately addressed, noting that only five percent of the country’s coral reefs remain in good condition according to the UP Marine Science Institute.

Furthermore, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines a typical square kilometer of healthy coral reef can produce up to 40 metric tons of seafood every year. The Tubbataha Reef generates over 200 metric tons of seafood annually.

“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.

“PEMSEA has been actively pushing for countries in East Asia to adopt the integrated coastal management (ICM) concept. We aim to develop a national ICM program through legislation,” she added.

Among the priority bills filed by Legarda at the start of the 16th Congress is the Integrated Coastal Management Act, which will develop a national ICM program that shall provide direction, support, and guidance to the local government units in the development of their respective programs in effectively managing coastal resources.

“The degradation of our coastal areas 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,” said Legarda.

“Through a national ICM program and a systematic and comprehensive approach in implementing the same, we will be able to realize our country’s goal of achieving food security, sustainable livelihood, poverty alleviation, and resilience to natural hazards while preserving ecological integrity,” she stressed.