Apo Island: a 'ray of hope' for the oceans

Feature story - August 30, 2006
Apo Island Marine Reserve in central Philippines is a 'ray of hope' for oceans around the world, Greenpeace said today during the visit of the ship MY Esperanza to the famous reserve. The Esperanza was welcomed in pristine Apo Island by the local community who displayed a 20 meter long banner by the shore, with the words 'Marine reserves: hope for the oceans.'

Greenpeace activists display an underwater banner in Apo Island Marine Reserve in central Philippines to promote the urgent need for marine reserves. Apo Island is acknowledged internationally as a model community managed marine reserve.

The visit is part of the Philippine leg of the Esperanza's global Defending our Oceans tour following a two-week campaign against marine pollution in different parts of the country. It underscores how the establishment of such protected areas in the oceans is a key solution to the crises that seas worldwide face today.

Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the world's oceans to be protected as marine reserves in order to reverse the current decline in the health of our oceans due to the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems that already reached a critical tipping point.

Apo Island now clearly presents the solution. Being a model of hope for coastal communities in the Philippines, the island shows how more reserves can mean a better chance for the oceans to recover. Scientists recognize the Philippine archipelago as the world's centre of marine biodiversity. However, the country's rich marine ecosystem is among the most highly threatened in the world. Three decades ago, Apo Island's reefs, now known for their astounding variety of marine life, was largely degraded by destructive fishing practices. The establishment of the reserve was indeed a crucial factor to the impressive recovery.

Therefore, it is important for governments to prioritize the protection of the oceans' general welfare and accept effective global action to increase areas of protection in the oceans. The government's delayed and insufficient responses to oceans disasters such as the recent oil slick involving Petron, and the toxic spills involving Lafayette mining in Rapu Rapu Island indicate a clear bias toward corporate interests rather than environmental conservation.

               

© Greenpeace / Danny Ocampo

The oceans would only be saved if threats to the marine ecosystems are halted. Thus, rehabilitation should immediately take place and protection areas must be increased. This way, not only Apo Island but also other marine protected areas can effectively ensure the general welfare of the oceans.

Read more about Apo Island

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