By Samantha L. Colinco
STRONG TYPHOONS IN the last two years contributed to the 99 percent damage of the coral cover in Apo Island, marine experts said.
Dr. Aileen Maypa, a researcher at the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, said that before the typhoons, corals in Apo covered 75 percent of the sea floor, but now only 0.63 percent is left.
“Corals have a highly complex environment. When we lose the coral cover, we lose the reef, then the habitat and then the fish,” she added.
Maypa along with other marine and environmental experts announced their findings last July 12 after a reef check of the marine sanctuary condition in Apo Island.
The inspection was assisted by international environmental organization, Greenpeace, which docked its ship MY Esperanza (Spanish word for “hope”) in Dumaguete last July 9.
Dr. Janet Estacion, a researcher at Silliman University Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences said that worsening storms in the province is a sign of climate change.
“Fisherfolk in the Philippines become more marginalized as the marine ecosystems they depend on are destroyed and fish migration pattern gets less predictable,” she added.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia representative, Mark Dia, said that in the past 10 years alone, temperature rise due to too much carbon in the atmosphere has come to point where “it is difficult to imagine that this could be reversed.”
He cited recent reports by the World Bank projecting extreme weather events to be more severe in Southeast Asia in the coming decades. By 2050, increased water temperatures will severely affect fish catch that in the Philippines. It is predicted to decrease by 50 percent, the report said.
Dia added that the oceans have especially borne the brunt of climate change because the waters absorb a lot of carbon from the atmosphere causing the oceans to be very acidic.
“When the water becomes too acidic, coral reefs, squids, clams and some planktons, do not survive,” he said. “We are looking at severe stress not only in our ecosystem but in the food chain in the marine environment.”
Dia added that everyone needs to do something to save the ocean because “we are all dependent on it. Remember, every breath we take today comes from the ocean.”
Greenpeace’s MY Esperanza is in the Philippines for the “Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia 2013.” It aims to promote the beauty of the Philippine seas, to expose the destruction of its oceans and to call for urgent government action to save local waters from crisis.