As we mourn the sea mammals that have beached in our shores and died due to human recklessness, this month, the country highlights the importance and the impact of our ocean to our own lives. May is “Month of the Ocean” by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 signed by then President Joseph Estrada in 1999.
To mark the 20th year, activities will be conducted to highlight the importance and significance of conservation, protection, and sustainable management of Philippine coastal and marine resources. We have not yet heard of the plans of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) on their activities but we are aware that civil society organizations are preparing for an event to mark this month.
As an archipelagic country, we are blessed with a long coastline that provides us with food and other important human needs. But we have failed to protect and conserve our natural resources. Coastline communities remain the most poor and we are losing our fishes to so many factors, one of which is overfishing.
We have to face the reality that climate change will affect this part of the world first. The health of our coral reefs depends so much on our own efforts to save what we have left. With the extreme weather changes we are now experiencing, we need to protect with vigor our front line barriers against coastal calamities.
Our coastal and marine ecosystems such as the coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves directly impact our own survival. Let’s make this month’s observance the beginning of a more sustained action to save the ocean.