The Esperanza's visit to Apo Island highlights how the
establishment of such protected areas in the oceans is a key
solution to the crises that seas worldwide face. The visit is part
of the Philippine leg of the Esperanza's global Defending our
Oceans tour and follows two weeks of campaigning against marine
pollution in different parts of the country.
"Apo Island has always been the model of hope for coastal
communities in the Philippines. It demonstrates how reserves can
effectively restore the productivity and biodiversity that once
characterized the seas, and shows how more reserves around the
globe will mean a better chance for the oceans to recover," said
Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Daniel Ocampo.
Recent studies show that the impact of human activity on marine
ecosystems have reached a critical tipping point. 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
Greenpeace considers the visit to Apo Island significant.
Scientists recognize the Philippine archipelago as the world's
centre of marine biodiversity but the country's rich marine
ecosystem is among the most highly threatened in the world. The
island, however, clearly presents the solution. Apo Island's reefs,
now known for their astounding variety of marine life, was, only
three decades ago, substantially degraded by destructive fishing
practices. The establishment of the reserve was a crucial factor to
the impressive recovery.
Many governments and institutions accept the importance of
establishing marine reserves, but effective global action to
increase areas of protection in our oceans has yet to take place.
It is therefore also important for governments to realize that
protecting the oceans' general welfare should be a priority.
In the Philippines, for example, despite strong local programs
for the establishment of reserves such as in Apo Island, the
country's rich biodiversity still continues to be undermined by
poor national governance. The government's delayed and insufficient
reponses to oceans disasters such as the recent oil slick involving
Petron, as well as toxic spills involving Lafayette mining in Rapu
Rapu Island indicate a clear bias toward corporate interests rather
than environmental conservation.
"Saving the oceans means stopping the threats to marine
ecosystems at the same time as we set aside areas for its
protection and rehabilitation. In this way, Apo Island and other
marine protected areas throughout the globe can effectively ensure
the future of our oceans," said Dr. Janet Cotter of Greenpeace's
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which
uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global
environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green
and peaceful future.