Press Release
July 15, 2012

Legarda Stresses Importance of Corals
in Sustaining Life and Livelihood of Filipinos

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the importance of protecting the country's coral reefs to sustaining the basic needs of Filipinos and improving the nation's growth and development.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that the study by the World Resources Institute, Reefs at Risk, showed that 85% of the reefs in the Coral Triangle, which covers six countries including the Philippines, are in danger.

"Many may not be aware of the importance of corals in our existence and the direct effect of coral reef degradation in our daily lives and so we have to educate our people. Beyond aesthetics, corals serve a greater purpose in our marine ecosystems, because without them, marine species would practically be homeless," Legarda explained.

"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. It is estimated that one square kilometer of healthy coral reef can support as much as 35 metric tons of live fish," she pointed out.

Furthermore, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) estimates that 80 percent of the animal protein requirement of Filipinos come from the seas. Thus, the destruction of coral reefs will radically deplete the country's food supply.

Moreover, as a tropical tourist destination, the country's beaches are the most popular attractions to local and foreign tourists alike. The Philippines may experience a massive decrease in tourist volume if coral reefs are destroyed, threatening local industries that depend on tourism.

The Senator cited current efforts to rehabilitate the country's coral reefs. The Department of Science and Technology has spearheaded the Filipinnovation on Coral Restoration Program, a program that will not only restore the beauty of our reefs and rehabilitate life but also improve the competitiveness of the tourism industry through a public-private-academe partnership.

Legarda said that the Filipinnovation on Coral Restoration Program gained milestones in both the asexual and sexual reproduction of corals, setting up pilot areas in several locations across the country where coral beds are being rehabilitated as we speak. These pilot areas are located in Aurora, Zambales, Masbate, Bohol, Aklan, and Tawi-Tawi.

"Imagine if at least 80% of the deteriorating corals in our country could only be resuscitated by these programs. Coral rehabilitation would actually be the best poverty-alleviation measure which will supply food for almost 100 million Filipinos," Legarda said.

"We must make our people realize the benefits of restoring and conserving our coral reefs, so that we will have more allies in protecting them from the many threats that cause them irreparable damage. The environment is threatened by the times, by the pressures of modern society, by our very species. But let this be a challenge to harness science and involve our citizens. We must do our part to save our coral reefs," Legarda concluded.

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