The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has stressed the urgency on the need to preserve healthy and productive oceans with rich marine biodiversity to ensure food security and sustainable development for present and future generations.
“We have to rehabilitate our seas to secure its ability to produce sufficient food supply for the current and future generations. If we lose them, we will lose our supply of food and other needs,” Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim of the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) said in a radio interview.
Lim issued the call as the nation celebrates the Month of the Ocean (MOO) this May, with the theme “Biodiversity for Food SeaCUREity,” that emphasizes the importance of marine biodiversity to food security.
According to Lim, the sustainable use of marine resources is essential to ensuring long-term food security and protecting marine biodiversity, which is under severe threat from habitat loss, climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and overexploitation of commercial fisheries.
Aside from the MOO, Lim said the country will also join the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day for Biodiversity (IDBD) on May 22 under the theme “Mainstreaming Biodiversity: Sustaining People and their Livelihoods.”
This year’s IDBD theme, she said, aims to inform the public on the relevance of biodiversity in sustaining people and livelihoods.
The BMB head pointed out that linking biodiversity and livelihood will “greatly impact people because it equates to investing in their lives.”
“Our oceans are part of ecosystems diversity together with forests, islands and seas which include mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and mud flats. All these should be cared for because they have their own vital functions and roles in the development of the agriculture and fisheries sectors and other marine-based livelihood”, she said.
Lim, meanwhile, called attention to unsustainable fishing methods and uncontrollable garbage disposal in the seas, which she said should be stopped to prevent further damage to coral reefs and marine life.
She also reminded fishermen to be more concerned about the long-term effects of illegal fishing methods.
Although the country celebrates MOO and IDBD only in the month of May, Lim said the attention and concern for marine resources should be a year-round responsibility.
“As an archipelagic country, the protection of our marine resources or marine biodiversity should be a primary concern,” she said.
The Philippines is the fifth among the 17 megadiverse countries in the world declared by Conservation International in 1998. Its terrestrial and marine ecosystems are habitats for different birds, sea creatures, plants and other animals.