Press Release
June 2, 2012

Legarda Embarks on Mission to Save Phl Marine Ecosystems

In a bid to save the country's seas, Senator Loren Legarda has embarked on a mission to restore damaged marine ecosystems primarily through a coral restoration program.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, has sponsored the coral rehabilitation project in Boracay by the Sangkalikasan Producer Cooperative (SPC) known as Code Blue Boracay Reef Buds Project.

The Senator said that the Code Blue project will be linked with the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) Filipinnovation on Coral Restoration Program, wherein nurseries inside specially designed incubators will be used to raise corals from coral fragments. After a certain period, these corals will be transferred to damaged reef areas. Part of the project is constructing specially-designed underwater frames that will aid their growth.

Legarda has expressed full support of DOST's program which will cover other areas in the country. She added that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will support the expansion of the project in Camiguin.

"Through this effort, we harness science not only to restore our damaged reefs but also to provide jobs, livelihood opportunities, and promote sustainable tourism," she stressed, noting that of the country's 27,000 square kilometers of existing corals, only five percent (5%) are in excellent condition.

Legarda recalled that in 2011, approximately 7,000 hectares of sea bed within the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea have been reportedly ravaged by poachers, more than 21,000 pieces of black coral were harvested and 161 endangered turtles and other marine life were killed, amounting to about Php35-million.

"Coral reefs are home to thousands of marine species, and losing them will spell disaster for our ecosystems, not to mention the thousands of Filipinos who depend on them for food and as sources of livelihood. We have been blessed to be at the very center of global marine diversity. It is imperative that we are not defeated by greed, ignorance, or apathy. We must do our part to save our coral reefs," she pointed out.

The Senator aims to raise awareness of the coral restoration project and encourage more legislators, public officials, private institutions, coastal communities, and citizens to get involved in the initiative.

"As more people realize the benefits of restoring and conserving our coral reefs, we will have more allies in protecting them from the many threats that cause them irreparable damage. We need to eliminate blast fishing, coral poaching, and irresponsible tourism. We need careful and consistent techniques which harness a multi-faceted approach, techniques which engage both the public and the private sector to create and sustain innovative solutions," Legarda concluded.

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