PH backs body to protect Coral Triangle

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The Philippines supports the setting up of a permanent Coral Triangle regional secretariat that would play a central role in putting in place effective adaptation measures in the Asian region, especially for coastal communities, to improve their resilience to climate change.

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Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has signed on behalf of the Philippine government a regional agreement supporting the establishment of a permanent secretariat for the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) in Manado, Indonesia, and make it fully operational by May this year.

There is an international clamor to preserve the Coral Triangle, which is home to 600 species of reef-building corals or 76 percent of the world’s known coral species and has the highest in terms of reef fish diversity with 2,500 or 37 percent of the planet’s reef fish species concentrated in the area.

It is also the spawning and nursery ground for four principle market tuna species that populate the Western and Central Pacific Ocean – yellowfin, albacore, bigeye and skipjack – and supplies close to 50 percent of the global tuna catch.

Thus, the CTI-CFF regional secretariat will be in charge of the technical and administrative management of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions in the world, bounded by the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

“This agreement clearly reflects the unique role of CTI-CFF in protecting and sustaining the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity as a fully operational secretariat that will coordinate the implementation of the CTI Regional Plan of Action,” Paje said when he signed the agreement personally presented to him by Dr. Sjarief Widjaja, secretary-general of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and chairman of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat, at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) main office in Quezon City.

The CTI-CFF is a multilateral partnership designed to safeguard the region’s extraordinary marine and coastal biological resources for future generations by promoting sustainable fisheries and livelihood, and climate change resilience and adaptation measures.

“The impacts of climate change are very real threats to us in the region and this agreement rolls out the full operation of the regional secretariat in May in time for the 5th CTI-CFF Ministerial Meeting in Manado, Indonesia on May 16, 2014 during the World Conference on Coral Reefs,” Paje said.

The environment chief said the agreement was reached during the 9th Senior Officials Meeting of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat, which was hosted by the DENR in Manila in November last year.

Under the auspices of the Indonesian government, the construction of a five-story Regional Secretariat building on a 6,000-square meter compound provided by the Provincial Government of North Sulawesi is nearing completion. The compound will also house the CTI headquarters.

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