Coastal resources conservation
Coastal resources conservation
The Philippines faces immense challenges. The urgent need for
economic progress comes under conditions of a booming population, insufficient
development resources and overexploited natural resources. Being an archipelago
with an extensive coast line (17,000 km²) and territorial waters more then
seven times its total land area, the country's coasts are characterized by
mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, seaweed beds, beaches and coral reefs.
However, due to pressures from an increasing population and the drive towards
industrial development, these coastal resources have been exploited such that
conservation and protection have been overlooked.
From an original mangrove vegetation of approximately 500,000 ha
in the 1920s, about 130,000 ha are left today, with only about a third
representing old growths or mature trees. Most of these forests have already
been converted to aquaculture ponds. Potential yields from coral reefs have been
found at a range of 0.8 to 5 t/km²/year, yet it has been observed that
intensively exploited reefs in the Philippines yield as much as 14-20
t/km²/year. Regretably, this cannot be sustained. Fish yields are not only
a function of how much fishing but also of the kind of fishing. Fish production
can be reduced immensely by habitat destruction. This includes destructive
fishing practices such as the use of dynamite, poisons and gears like seines and
trawls which scrape across the bottom and disrupt the production of fish food or
spawning of fish. Also, coastal areas functionally serve as the receptacle of
most, if not all, waste materials that are generated by land-based activities
such as agriculture, aquaculture and mining. Indiscriminate logging, on the
other hand, promotes erosion that leads to sedimentation of rivers and
eventually the coastal waters. This effectively suffocates marine organisms. At
present, live coral cover stands at 33,036 km² with only an estimated five
percent classified to be in excellent condition. This lamentable situation must
Below are various ways by which sustainable use can be effected.
1. Individual Level
· Conservation is
not the sole responsibility of the authorities. Each person should do his or her
share in ensuring that the environment is adequately protected.
· Be aware of pertinent laws and
follow them (e.g., use non-destructive fishing methods).
· Reuse materials (e.g., paper,
plastic) to lessen the garbage produced.
· Use recycled paper. This means
that less trees will be cut in the process.
· Throw rubbish in trash cans
and avoid littering the beaches. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing and
sanitary but this would also prevent polluting the water. Likewise, plastics
which find their way into the sea could suffocate fishes. These plastics could
also be accidentally swallowed by other organisms which could then prove fatal
· Avoid stepping on corals. An
inch of its branch, for example, actually took one year to grow.
· Do not catch endangered
species (e.g., green turtles, dugongs).
· Do not patronize/buy products
derived from endangered species (e.g., turtle shell).
· Avoid gathering live corals
and shells for purposes of displaying them later.
· Report observed anomalies or
violations of environmental and fisheries laws.
· Participate actively in
productive community endeavours (e.g., being deputized to help law
2. Community Level
· Indeed, there is
strength in numbers. An organized and environmentally aware community
(especially one with a strong fishermen's organization/cooperative) has the
power to achieve more, in terms of number and scale. conservation and other
· Seek advise from appropriate
government agencies and/or tap nongovernment organizations for desired community
organizing, financial and technical information and technologies.
· Establish marine protected
areas, mangrove revegetation/seagrass transplantation sites and artificial reefs
to rehabilitate degraded areas.
· Establish set-back lines (area
from the waterline up to a designated distance) to ensure public access and to
serve as protection against erosion.
· Designate areas for anchoring
boats to minimize damage to seagrasses and corals.
· Advocate non-destructive
fishing methods (e.g., use of net in aquarium fishing).
· Assist law enforcers in
patrolling fishing areas.
· Engage in ecologically sound
tourism activities and appropriate livelihood projects to augment income or a
different source of living from capture fisheries while implementing long-term
projects such as mangrove reforestation.
· Establish support facilities
(e.g., cooperatives) to ensure greater returns. This should further motivate
fisherfolks to continue with their conservation efforts.
· Support health programs with
special emphasis on discouraging undue population growth and promotion of proper
industrial and domestic waste disposal.
· Share experiences through
fisherfolk-to-fisherfolk technology development dissemination and promotion
activities. In the process, stronger links can be established among fishermen's
3. National Level
The adoption of policies supportive of conservation would ensure
complementary national activities.
Policies on environmental education, the implementation of
zoning in appropriate areas, strengthening institutional capabilities and
consultation with the people should be given serious consideration. It is also
important to note that pollution problems may very well increase as
industrialization increases in the tropics, particularly under impetus from some
of the more developed countries to transfer the most polluting industries to
If necessary, legislation should be given more teeth or
incentives be provided in order to improve law enforcement practices. This
includes effective control of the availability of blasting caps that are
sometimes used in blast fishing.
In summary, the rate of exploitation can be checked through the
concerted efforts of all sectors.
Ideas for Action:
A Technology Information Kit November 23 - 28,