EDITORIAL - National heritage
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2015 - 12:00am

Two years after a US Navy minesweeper ran aground on Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, Washington has paid the P87.03 million or $1.97 million sought by the Philippine government as compensation for the damage. US officials said several crewmembers of the USS Guardian have also been sanctioned for the accident that destroyed 2,345.67 square meters of corals in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The compensation can be used to spur coral regeneration – a process that could take over two decades before the affected area can be fully restored. Scientists have found that regeneration can be speeded up if a coral network is undisturbed by human activity. Regulated diving and snorkeling activities, however, are allowed in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Marginal fishing is also allowed in surrounding waters in the Sulu Sea.

The Philippines is a global hot spot in coral reef destruction. Environmental groups estimate that up to 70 percent of the country’s extensive coral forests have been destroyed – way above the global average. Tubbataha enjoys protection as a World Heritage Site. As the USS Guardian accident showed, however, improvements are needed in monitoring and protecting the marine park.

In many other areas of the archipelago, dynamite fishing, the use of cyanide and other destructive forms of fishing continue to deplete coral reefs. The destruction will have an impact on the nation’s food security as fish run out of breeding grounds. The compensation paid by the United States for Tubbataha will help improve protection of the marine park. But many other coral networks around the country have no protection at all.

Palawan has reaped the benefits of eco-tourism for many years, and several provinces are following suit. Coastal communities are learning the value of preserving diving and snorkeling sites and having whale sharks and dolphins as regular visitors. These communities can serve as models in spreading the idea that environmental protection is good economics. Everyone is a stakeholder in protecting the environment and the nation’s rich biodiversity. Preserving the nation’s heritage is everyone’s responsibility.

 

 

COMPENSATION CORAL PALAWAN PROTECTION SULU SEA TUBBATAHA TUBBATAHA REEF TUBBATAHA REEFS NATURAL PARK UNITED STATES WORLD HERITAGE SITE
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with