The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has underscored the need for more action to protect reefs within the Coral Triangle amid growing threats to their ecosystems—from overfishing and pollution to impacts of climate change.
While the Philippines had taken important steps to protect its own reefs and the marine life they host, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that 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 added.
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, or Scremp, designed by the Philippine government to more effectively protect and rehabilitate the coral reefs in the region.
Paje said that Scremp would 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.
“At the apex of the Coral Triangle or the world’s center of marine biodiversity is the Philippines. We are one of the 18 megadiverse countries that contain 75 percent of the global biodiversity. And yet, we too are one of the hottest of the marine biodiversity hotspots in the world,” Paje said.
James Konstantin Galvez