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MANILA – The Philippines has received a score of 51 in the Ocean Health Index, placing it 105th out of 171 territories surveyed for the management of its marine ecosystems, Senator Loren Legarda said Monday.
Higher scores in the Ocean Health Index suggest better indicators for the sustainable management of a territory's marine ecosystems; lower scores indicate less successful programs for the same.
The Ocean Health Index is an initiative led by Conservation International, which was launched with the endorsement of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Oceans.
Legarda, head of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said the index focuses not on how pristine the ocean is but how a country 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. 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 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,” she added.
On the other hand, Legarda 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,” she said.