Legarda Renews Call to Safeguard World’s Oceans from Climate Change Impacts

May 6, 2016

As the nation celebrates Oceans Month this May, Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call to safeguard the world’s oceans from climate change impacts through the sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal 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.”


According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), every time there is monitored heating of the bottom of the ocean, they expect casualty to the corals, which are vital to marine life and food security.


“It is estimated that a square kilometer of healthy coral reef can yield a catch of over 15 tons of fish and other seafood every year. But ocean acidification, which causes destruction of coral reefs, would mean less fish population. This would translate to lower fish catch and lower protein for the people,” Legarda said.


The Senator said that the government must address the impacts of climate change on oceans and marine ecosystems.


“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,” said Legarda.


“Moreover, if we will adopt responsible fishing practices and sustainable marine management and conservation, a healthier marine system and larger catch at sea will both be possible in the long term,” she added.


The DENR is set to undertake a nationwide coral restoration program and improve on mangrove reforestation projects.


Legarda, who also chairs the Committee on Finance, said that under the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Php500 million has been allocated for the coral restoration program. The DENR will implement the project based on current programs, such as the sustainable coral reef ecosystem management program (SCREMP).


Also under the 2016 GAA is a special provision mandating state universities and colleges (SUCs) to coordinate with the DENR for the establishment of nurseries including the clonal nurseries, the conduct of forest research, and mangrove reforestation activities, and other similar activities within the scope of the National Greening Program (NGP).


“The degradation of our marine ecosystems has always been a gut issue as it pushes poverty deeper in the coastal communities through loss of livelihood, vulnerability to natural hazards, hunger and even health problems. The future of our oceans, and that of us humans, relies on how much action we are willing to take today. We must all work together to bring back our oceans and the whole marine ecosystem to excellent condition so that our seas can benefit us in a sustainable manner,” Legarda concluded.