MANILA Being an archipelago hoping to save its reefs from further degradation, the Philippines is actively celebrating the 2018 International Year of the Reef (IYOR), which is just the world's third, after the first two IYOR in 1997 and 2008.
Less than 10 percent of the country's estimated 26,000 square kilometers of coral reef area remains in good and excellent condition, noted Vjorn Grimaldo, an environmental management specialist at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), where Grimaldo works, spearheads the Philippines' celebration of this year's IYOR.
"We'll further collaborate with various stakeholders on conserving coral reefs nationwide," Grimaldo said.
Coral reefs are underwater structures that naturally form over the years.
Experts said reefs are accumulated skeletons of corals, which are marine animals that permanently attach to the ocean floor and "take root"
Coral reefs, they said, are among Earth's most valuable ecosystems, as these support more species per unit area than any other marine
The 2014 Asian Development Bank publication "State of the Coral Triangle" said Philippine coral reefs host about 3,053 fish species and the potential yield from coral reef fish species is about 351,000 to 429,000 tons of fish.
Sedimentation, marine-based pollution, destructive fishing, and negative impacts of coastal development are among factors that have caused damage to Philippine reef areas, the publication noted.
For the 2000-2004 period alone, the paper said, Philippine reefs with poor coral cover had accounted for about 40 percent of the
country's total reef area.
"Unsustainable tourism and climate change are worsening coral reefs' problems," Grimaldo said.
He said tourists and the general public must be informed of the importance of reefs.
Climate change-induced water temperature rise beyond what corals can tolerate, stressing and killing them, environment authorities said.
International Coral Reef Initiative declared IYOR to increase global awareness about the value of coral reefs in the ecosystem.
IYOR also aims to promote reef conservation, research, and management worldwide.
Grimaldo said the Philippines' celebration of IYOR 2018 is a year-long campaign of events and initiatives aimed at helping meet such goals.
Among such activities are symposia on coral reefs and oceans, as well as recognition of Philippine fisherfolk, he said.
He said parties aiming to stage reef-related activities can inform the BMB about their plans, so the agency can include these in its IYOR 2018
calendar of events.
Source: Philippine News Agency