Ocean Defender Tour starts in one of the country’s oldest marine sanctuaries

Press release - July 9, 2013
Apo Island, Dauin, Negros Oriental – The largest ship in the Greenpeace fleet, Esperanza, arrived today in Apo Island, home to one of the country’s oldest community-managed marine reserves, to mark the start of its three week journey from the Visayas to Manila. The ship, which is on the Philippine leg of her “Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia 2013,” will tell the story of the richness and the beauty of the Philippine seas, expose destruction that causes marine degradation and sound the alarm to call for urgent government action to save the Philippine seas from crisis.

“Our warmest welcome to Esperanza and her crew for her visit to the Municipality of Dauin especially to Apo Island,” said Dauin Mayor Neil Credo.  “We are glad that we are one of your chosen destinations in the country in your mission is to revive marine treasures,” he added.

 

“Dauin is known to have successfully implemented the coastal resource management program, and behind this is every Dauinanons’ support to preserve and conserve marine resources. Rest assured that we will always be with you in achieving your mission,” added Mayor Credo.

Apo Island Marine Sanctuary is one of the oldest protected marine reserves in the Philippines and is part of the Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape. The site has inspired the establishment of other Marine Protected Areas not only in the Philippines but also in other countries for its exemplary management and biodiversity. This is the first stop of the Esperanza in the Philippines, where she and her crew will be assisting in an ongoing reef check. Silliman University and Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF) are conducting a check following two typhoons that devastated the sanctuary.

“Apo Island Marine Sanctuary has always been a model of hope that shows how oceans can be restored when they are successfully protected,” said Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner. “But the sanctuary, just like the rest of the Philippines’ seas, is in crisis. The Esperanza is here to call on all sectors, government, private, NGOs and individuals, to work together to restore the health and productivity our country’s oceans.”

Greenpeace has been sounding the alarm on the need to protect the country’s seas. Last month, the environment group launched the report “Oceans in the Balance” which details how our seas are suffering from the twin pressures of marine ecosystems destruction and overfishing. Along with other groups, Greenpeace is proposing a road to recovery that will address the crisis and preserve the oceans for future generations.

This is the Esperanza’s third visit to the Philippines. While here, she will also be visiting Bicol and Manila to work with scientists, coastal communities and Church groups to revive our oceans and fisheries.

Esperanza was recently in the country in December 2012 when she helped the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other aid organizations in delivering relief goods to Mindanao immediately after typhoon Pablo. Back in 2006, during her first visit to the Philippines, the Esperanza and her crew assisted the Philippine Coast Guard in mitigating the oil spill in Guimaras Island.

Her visit to the country this year is part of the “Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia 2013.” The tour started in Indonesia last May, where in Jakarta, the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior hosted onboard President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and members of his cabinet. In June, the Esperanza visited Thailand where she worked with local fishing communities to call for an end destructive fishing in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Esperanza crew was welcomed by community leaders of Apo Island, representatives from the academe and other NGOs, local government units, and students. In the next few days the Esperanza will be stationed a few kilometers away to join scientists and experts in assessing the extent of damage to Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, caused by typhoons Sendong in 2011 and Pablo in 2012.

“’Esperanza’ means 'hope' in Spanish. This tour is also a message that there is hope for our seas,” said Cinches. “We need to protect the oceans from stressors such as overfishing, pollution and destruction, and ensure that they are resilient to the effects of climate change. Being an achipelago, our country is heavily reliant on our seas. Our seas are our future. Strong government action is needed, as well as support from all sectors.”

After the reef check in Apo Island, the Esperanza is set to dock in Dumaguete port on July 12 for public activities aimed at raising public awareness on how we can all help in defending our seas. The ship will be open to the public on July 13 for tours. All Filipinos are encouraged to sign up as an Ocean Defender at www.defendouroceans.org to join a growing movement dedicated to helping protect our seas.


For more information and interview arrangements, please contact:

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner, +63917-5363754,

Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Media Campaigner, +63917-8228793,

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