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Only 4% of Philippine coral reefs are still pristine

/ 03:20 AM January 27, 2012

Conservationists in Mindanao fear that unless a stiffer law is passed that would heavily penalize smuggling of banned marines species, the activity will not be stopped. The same with gathering and selling of corals, a virtual cottage industry for many fishermen in the area.

Most of the country’s coral reefs are in need of rehabilitation with only four percent still in pristine condition, a senior environment official said Thursday.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Mundita Lim said Philippines’ corals encompass 26,000 square kilometers.

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However, only four percent of that area is “in excellent condition,” Lim said at the United Nations Environment Program’s Land-Ocean Connection Conference.

“The rest are candidates for restoration,” she said.

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Coral reefs, she explained, are considered underwater forests because of their complex ecosystem that supports a huge amount of wildlife. They are also carbon sinks.

According to Lim, the coral reefs of the Philippines are home to 500 of the 800 coral species in the world. But they are at risk because of over-exploitation, illegal fishing practices, coastal pollution, and rising ocean temperature, she said.

“Our coasts and seas have suffered heavy degradation wrought by over half a century of destructive practices,” Lim said.

“The World Resource Institute released a study only this year that the Philippines is one of the nine countries in the world with high to very high exposure to coral reef threats, but low to medium adaptive capacity,” she added.

Lim said the Philippines needed to reverse the degradation of coral reefs to improve its food security.

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TAGS: Coral reefs, environment, PAWB
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