ucanews.com reporter, ManilaPublished: November 16, 2012 08:39 AM GMT
Greenpeace has teamed up with environment and fishing groups in launching a ‘declaration of crisis in the Philippine Seas’ today warning that marine resources are on the brink of collapse. The campaign, the most explicit and coordinated yet in this archipelago nation, follows a two-day conference which discussed problems and possible solutions. Dennis Calvan, executive director of the NGOs for Fisheries Reform, one of the organizers, said the declaration is "an indicator that we are no longer in a state of denial, that we acknowledge the devastation happening beneath the waves." He warned that those would suffer most from the crisis were coastal and municipal fishing communities who are already among the poorest people in the country. Dr. Radzma Sahaili, a marine scientist from Mindanao State University, said the crisis was nothing new "but unfortunately it remains inadequately addressed." Part of the problem is that the unfolding disaster is one that is hidden beneath hundreds of meters of sea making it easier to ignore, she said. "The crisis of the Philippine seas will soon reach the tipping point where our fish stocks and marine ecosystems will not be able to fully recover.” The Philippines has one of the most diverse aquatic ecosystems in the planet, but they are also among the most threatened. Only five percent of the country’s coral reefs are still in good condition, and of 450,000 hectares of mangroves recorded in 1914, only around 100,000 hectares remain. The government's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources reported that ten out of 13 surveyed fishing grounds in the country are either severely fished or overexploited. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, the maximum sustainable yield for fishing was already reached in 1986. "Our seas are bigger, and richer, than any ecosystem we have on land. And yet the policies to protect them are fragmented and uncoordinated,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. He said the Philippine seas "will continue to plunge headlong into a deep crisis as long as we continue assaulting our waters with pollution and emptying our rich fishing grounds as if there’s no tomorrow." Related reports Seas head for ‘unprecedented’ crisisFish shortage looms, says Greenpeace
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