The Philippines sits at the tip of the apex of the Coral triangle and decends 1851 Km to the center. It covers over 7000 islands wich contain 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs. In 2007, Reef Check.org stated that only 5 percent of the country’s coral reefs are in “excellent condition.” These are the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in Palawan, Apo Island in Negros Oriental, Apo Reef in Puerto Galera, Mindoro, and Verde Island Passage off Batangas.The World Atlas of Coral Reefs, compiled by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), reported that 97 percent of reefs in the Philippines are under threat from destructive fishing techniques, including cyanide poisoning, overfishing, or from deforestation and urbanization that result in harmful sediment spilling into the sea. Dynamite and overfishing on the reefs are largely to blame for the destruction of the very ecosystem that so many poor fishing communities benefit from. A single reef can support as many as 3,000 species of marine life. As fishing grounds, they are thought to be 10 to 100 times as productive per unit area as the open sea. In the Philippines, an estimated 10-15 percent of the total fisheries come from coral reefs, and about 80 to 90 percent of the incomes of small island communities come from fisheries. “Coral reef fish yields range from 20 to 25 metric tons per square kilometer per year for healthy reefs,” says Dr. Alcala. Estimates show that if the present rapid population growth and declining trend in fish production continue, only 10 kilograms of fish will be available per Filipino per year by 2010, as opposed to 28.5 kilograms per year in 2003. Despite laws passed by the government, fishermen need more programs made available to offer these fisherman alternative means of employment. Despite approving local laws to set up No catch or fishing Zones and Marine Protection Areas there is very little financial government support to assist them. It appears that only incentives from private individuals, companies or NGO’s are helping to further the cause. In fact the fisheries code of 1998 (REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8550) consolidated numerous existing laws etc to give LGU control at the Barangay level. Although the law is excellent in intention, the government falls short of providing the funds for the basic provisions:
- No funds to set up the marking of the boundaries of the Marine Protected Areas etc.
- No assistance with the methodology of the geographical references mapping of the areas, or the conversion to the GPS system.
- Little or No funds for the patrolling of the areas once established for either
salaries for the Bantay Dagat, boats or fuel.
So now we at least know, were to start this long voyage.
*The real cure for our environmental problems is to understand that our job is to salvage Mother Nature.
We are facing a formidable enemy in this field. It is the hunters… and to convince them to leave their guns on the wall is going to be very difficult. “