Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrives in Cebu at start of Coastal Protection Month

Press release - September 1, 2006
The Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza arrives today in Cebu City on the last stop of the Philippine leg of her global Defending our Oceans expedition. The voyage aims to highlight the wonders of, and the environmental threats to, the world's oceans. It will also campaign for the establishment of a global network of marine reserves. The Esperanza’s visit to Cebu coincides with the city’s Coastal Protection Month which precedes the very first National Marine Protected Area Summit in the country.

In Cebu, Greenpeace is supporting the work of its partner in advocacy, Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF) in their call for the establishment of more marine reserves.  The Esperanza arrives in the city from world-renowned, community-managed Apo Island Marine Reserve in Negros Oriental. Many new and emerging marine reserves in Cebu and the rest of the country follow the blueprint of the Apo  Island experience.

"Marine reserves are our, and our oceans', future. The benefits that they give to the oceans are benefits that will be enjoyed by many coastal communities, as healthy oceans provide sustainable livelihoods and resources." said Atty. Rose-Liza Eisma Osorio, CCEF Executive Director.

Scientists recognize the Philippine archipelago as the world's centre of marine biodiversity, but the country's rich marine ecosystem is also among the world's most severely threatened. In her tour of the Philippines, the Esperanza has been witness to both the desparation of marine ecosystems and coastal communities, and the viable future that these face once long-term solutions are implemented

and enforced.

Since her arrival in the Philippines, the Esperanza has been witness to the various threats to the oceans, particularly pollution. In Manila, the Esperanza drew attention to the alarming plastic pollution in Manila Bay. Plastics together with various industrial chemicals and domestic sewage are suffocating the bay's once productive waters. The Esperanza's early response in assisting the Philippine Coast Guard and other organizations in the Petron Solar 1 oil-slick disaster which has devastated Guimaras Island and other parts of Central Visayas has been crucial in helping focus the world's attention to the massive environmental catastrophe. The ship has also actively taken part in community protests in Rapu Rapu Island in Albay where toxic mine pollution from Lafayette's mining operations is destroying marine ecosystems, endangering vulnerable and important species like the whale shark, and ruining the livelihoods of poor coastal communities.

However, when the Esperanza leaves the Philippines from Cebu on September 3, she will carry with her a message of hope for the oceans. Experiences in Apo Island Marine Reserve and in Cebu show the world that the oceans will have a chance to recover once strong measures of protection are instituted.

Greenpeace is campaigning for 40% of the world's oceans to be protected by marine reserves in the high seas. "At present, only a tiny area of ocean (0.01%) is protected from increasingly destructive human activity," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Daniel Ocampo onboard the Esperanza, "The wealth of local experiences with regard to the benefits of ocean protection is one of the key aspects that Greenpeace wants to highlight in the Esperanza's year-long Defending our Oceans tour. These will serve as examples of how similar reserves in international waters in the high seas are the key solution to the global oceans crises."

Other contacts: Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigner, +63 917 897 6416 Janet Cotter, Scientist, Science Unit, Greenpeace Intl, +639273434020 Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969 Satellite phone on the Esperanza, +47 514 079 86 CCEF, +63 32 233 6909 or 233 6947