Senator Loren Legarda today expressed alarm over the results of the Ocean Health Index, which ranked the Philippines 105th out of 117 territories, making it among the most deteriorated marine ecosystems in the world.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, detailed that the Ocean Health Index focuses not only how pristine the ocean is but how it can sustainably deliver benefits for the people within its territory. It uses 50 distinct indicators such as the sustainability of methods of seafood harvesting and coastal protection.
“The Ocean Health Index is a new kind of yardstick because it measures how well our oceans can continue to deliver the needs of our growing population. It recognizes people as a legitimate component of ocean health. And based on the 2012 results, it is clear that the health and socio-economic value of our oceans will continue to deteriorate if we do not innovate our strategies towards their conservation,” she said.
The Ocean Health Index is an initiative led by Conservation International, launched with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans’ endorsement.
“The Philippines performed very poorly in the amount of seafood harvested for human consumption and the sustainability of methods to that end, natural marine products, and sense of place or protection of indigenous species and their habitats. We should orient our policies accordingly, and make sure that we continue improving in the areas we are doing well in,” Legarda explained.
She noted that the Philippines scored fairly high in indicators such as access for local fishing communities, preservation of habitats that absorb carbon, coastal protection, coastal livelihoods and economies, clean waters, and marine biodiversity.
“We must focus on how we can make our oceans sustainably benefit us. We must find the much-needed balance in marine resource use while protecting our marine ecosystems. The fact that our existence depends largely on these oceans, just as its health depends on us, must be incorporated into our initiatives,” Legarda concluded.***