PH losing coral reefs to gov’t neglect, overfishing—WWF
MANILA, Philippines—Decades of over-fishing and government neglect are to blame for the near eradication of the Philippines’ coral reefs, which now threatens the country’s ecological balance and food security, according to Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)–Philippines.
Tan claimed that the government has failed to enforce its marine laws.
The WWF said the Philippines used to have 27,000 square kilometers of healthy coral reefs but that 50 years of destructive commercial and unregulated fishing has left less than five percent in excellent condition.
“Just one percent remains pristine and productivity has begun to wane. The ‘rape’ of Cotabato’s reef is not unique,” it added.
WWF-Philippines issued the statement after Bureau of Customs officials confiscated black coral, seashells and dead sea turtles with an estimated value of over P50 million last week. The items, which came from the waters off Cotabato and Cebu, were bound for markets overseas.
“Front-line enforcement must be in place; improved and effective local regulation is essential,” Tan said.
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