Friday, December 12, 2014

Legarda Urges Nations’ United Effort Towards Marine Conservation

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that nations should unite towards the protection of our high seas and the responsible use of marine resources.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, made the statement during the Regional Seminar on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction held at the Century Park Hotel in Manila on December 12, 2014.

The event was organized by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), in cooperation with Greenpeace Southeast Asia and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“There is no question that marine biological diversity is enormously important for the Philippines and the world. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognizes this importance and very early came up with a work programme on marine biological diversity. However, the CBD is fairly limited to national biodiversity,” Legarda explained.

“It is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS that governs the use of marine resources in the high seas. But when the UNCLOS was negotiated in the 1980s, we did not yet have the knowledge and insight we now have on marine biological diversity. Today, we need a new implementing agreement under UNCLOS,” she added.

The Senator noted that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that about 80% percent of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited, over exploited or significantly depleted. Moreover, the World Bank states that an estimated $50 billion worth of economic benefits are lost annually due to overfishing.

She added that in the Philippines, among the poorest in are those in coastal communities, with 4 of 10 coastal residents living under poverty line, despite the fact that the country is located within the coral triangle, at the center of the highest marine diversity in the world.

“This situation, along with the fact that the Philippines is considered an epicenter of biodiversity and evolution, demands special focus on marine conservation efforts. However, conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity should not be concentrated in individual countries alone,” said Legarda.

“Our nations are interconnected, and an ecosystems approach towards a more holistic, multisectoral, integrated and sustainable coastal management and fisheries, across countries, governments and communities will be beneficial to all,” she stressed.

“As different nations living in one planet, we need to unite towards the protection of our high seas and the responsible use of marine resources. We need an UNCLOS agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We must act now and work together to find the much-needed balance in using the resources of our oceans and protecting its biodiversity,” Legarda concluded.

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