MANILA, Philippines - A project spearheaded by an environmental group and an airline company has helped in protecting Asia’s largest coral reef from poachers and negative climate effects.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) is asking the public, particularly Cebu Pacific (CEB) passengers, to take an active part in minimizing the environmental impacts of air travel by making an online donation to a climate change adaptation project in Apo Reef when they book their flights online.
CEB marketing and distribution vice president Candice Iyog said, “The Bright Skies program not only prepares residents of Sablayan municipality in Occidental Mindoro and other Filipino coastal municipalities for more pronounced typhoons, floods and other climate impacts, it also makes our passengers realize that minimizing ecological impacts can be integrated into their daily lives.”
The partnership has provided the coastal municipality with a powerful patrol boat for apprehending poachers. Enforcement operations have thus far netted 15 park violators. Today, the program centers on building resilience by efficiently identifying and protecting marine zones, promoting sustainable seafood harvest, developing promising ecotourism sites and educating the local community on how best to protect and reap the rewards of the sea.
Situated 15 nautical miles west of Sablayan, Apo Reef remains one of the most significant reef complexes within the Coral Triangle. Spanning 27,469 hectares, it is home to almost 200 species of soft and hard coral, 385 species of fish plus charismatic undersea giants like thresher and hammerhead sharks, manta rays, sperm whales, dolphins and migrating sea turtles.
According to a recent WWF report, coral reefs may disappear from the Coral Triangle by the end of the century and the ability of the region to feed people may decline by 80 percent if no effective action is taken.
“Thirty years ago the park was one of the world’s premier diving destinations. It was much more than a dive destination, it was a vast fishing ground. Even during the height of its destruction in the 1980s, you could still catch a basket-load of fish in minutes. It truly was the jewel of Mindoro,” said former Sablayan Mayor Godofredo Mintu.
“Cebu Pacific’s decision to spearhead climate adaptation is a prime example of private-sector leadership,” says WWF-Philippines CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan. “At the end of the day, however, the most crucial decisions – -that to consciously do what we can to reduce our impacts – lie in our own hands. We all have a responsibility to our planet. We can start today. We must.”
Both CEB and WWF-Philippines invite travelers to donate to the program when booking via www.cebupacificair.com. Up to June 30, donors will get a chance to win two round-trip tickets to any domestic CEB destination, plus limited-edition WWF merchandise. The raffle is on July 9, 2010.