Environmental conservation is key
To many people, including those in the government, the seas and oceans don’t really matter ecologically.
In their mind, the seas and global commons only involve the right to navigate and explore resources, be it oil or gas, and to expand their territorial reach and power, as what China is doing in the South China Sea. This has been the practice since time immemorial, when Portugal ruled the oceans and Spain followed with its mighty armada, followed in turn by the Dutch, the English, and the French, and then the superpower America, and now China.
They all fail to realize that the oceans are alive, and supply food and livelihood for billions of people. To them, the prospect of an impending ecological marine disaster makes no sense.
What is worrisome is that with the damage to and continued pollution of the seas and oceans, an ecological marine meltdown is shaping up faster than they think.
Fish catch has decreased dramatically as populations increase exponentially. The number of gyres and dead zones has increased.
Yet despite the many findings on the sad state of the oceans, they still think in terms of narrow economics.
During a recent dive in Anilao, Batangas, we were happy to note the good state of the coral colonies. After all, this is the heart of the Coral Triangle.
We have been diving in Anilao since the early 1970s, and still she is good. The key is environmental conservation.
During the early years, Agriculture Minister Bong Tanco helped us make this area a sanctuary. Then came President Fidel V. Ramos, a diver who sealed Anilao’s ecological health.
We are worried that the continued destruction of coral colonies in the South China Sea will destroy the entire Pacific Ocean. It is just a matter of time before the coral colonies are totally destroyed if China’s reclamation and island-building activities continue unabated.
We have, along with many others, advocated the establishment of a marine peace park in the South China Sea, where the coral colonies are far richer than any in the world, and serve to replenish the Pacific Ocean day in and day out, per the findings of the East-West Center as presented in a conference in July 2016.
It would be ideal if an international marine conference on the matter is held, attended by the brightest marine experts as well as representatives of the fisheries industry. The world should be made aware that the seas and oceans are in grave danger and that the fish are disappearing.
Perhaps the government will listen to the experts and keep the politics of destruction away.
Remember Boracay and the uncontrolled development on that once-pristine island. Its sustainability has been destroyed and now she is dying.
ANTONIO M. CLAPAROLS, president, Ecological Society of the Philippines
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