The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has underscored the need for more action to protect reefs within the Coral Triangle which face threats ranging from overfishing and pollution to impacts of climate change.
The Philippines had already taken important steps to protect its own reefs and the marine life they host, but Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said more needs to be done in developing sustainable solutions for the threatened reefs in the Coral Triangle, a global hotspot of marine biodiversity.
“We face a crisis on the continued degradation of our fragile ecosystems and resources that could endanger the survival and quality of life of future generations,” Paje said in a statement.
“Investing in coastal and marine protection can certainly help ensure a better future for our children and a better environment for all,” he said.
Last week, the Coral Triangle Initiative-Philippines National Coordinating Committee, which is co-chaired by the DENR and the Department of Agriculture, hosted the CTI Forum in Makati City, which also saw the launch of the Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Program (SCREMP).
Paje said SCREMP is designed by the Philippine government to more effectively protect and rehabilitate the coral reefs in the region,.
It will focus on habitat conservation and protection, as well as enhancing public awareness and protection, to mitigate and reverse the damage brought by unsustainable human activities and climate change.
The Philippines, being at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is a partner-nation of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). The triangle also covers the exclusive economic zones of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
CTI-CFF is a multilateral cooperation among six member countries to safeguard the Coral Triangle, which is home to more than one third of the world’s coral reefs, including over 600 different species of reef-building coral and 3,000 species of reef fish.
These coral ecosystems provide food and income for more than 100 million people working in marine-based industries throughout the region.
JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ