Senator Loren Lagarda on Climate Change.

While most lawmakers create measures to control human population, some promote procreation for survival.

In her speech during the recent World Environment Day, Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Committee on Climate Change, urged the public to help save marine life by encouraging “Sex on the Reefs.” “There is sex on the reefs. Where the warm ocean currents meet the more temperate Philippine waters, a different kind of procreation is taking place—one that would save not only marine life, but our very own as well,” she said.

Legarda highlighted the importance of coral reefs in marine life. “Reefs are, foremost, complex ecosystems that are vital to the continuity of life in the sea. They protect coastlines from wave and storm erosion and function as nurseries and habitats for thousands of marine species. They are ultimately connected to mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and countless other ecosystems,” she said.

She explained that as corals produce sexually and asexually, it produces a young coral, which will be initially placed in underwater nurseries to assure stability and survival, will grow to form a coral colony in the reefs.

However, Legarda lamented that the decline of the coral population was caused by humans. She specified the recovery in May 2011 of two container vans filled with thousands of pieces of black coral and hundreds of lifeless turtles and other marine species from around 7,000 hectares of sea bed within the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea.

She cited that in a study conducted by the UP Marine Science Institute, only five percent of the country’s coral reefs remain in good condition.

The Philippines is located within the Coral Triangle, home to 76 percent of the world’s coral species and over 2,000 marine species.

She added that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) estimates that 80 percent of the animal protein requirement of Filipinos come from marine life. Mangrove forests alone produce almost 108 million kilograms of fish annually.

Despite this, Legarda lauded the efforts of government and non-government agencies and the academe in the forefront of coral restoration such as the Department of Science and Technology for its “Filipinnovation on Coral Restoration,” a program that aims to restore coral reefs by utilizing scientific expertise and Filipino ingenuity; Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative, a Boracay-based non-government organization for its “Code Blue Boracay Reef Buds Project,” aiming to plant at least 5,000 artificial “reefbuds” on the waters of Boracay to rehabilitate the ecosystem underneath, supported by the DENR to craft a coral reef database to ensure that data on Philippine corals are updated.

“The environment is threatened by the times, by the pressures of modern society, by our very species. The destruction of our marine ecosystems will not only lead to the extinction of thousands of species but will also be detrimental to tourism, food supply, and sustenance and livelihood of our fisherfolk. But let this be a challenge to harness science and involve our citizens,” Legarda said.

By SARAH HILOMEN-VELASCO
June 20, 2012, 3:13pm – Manila Bulletin
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