Oceana urges Marcos administration to protect marine protected areas vs. plastic pollution
Press Release Date: July 18, 2022
As plastic waste continues its destructive path towards critical marine resources all over the world, international advocacy organization Oceana urged the new Marcos administration to prioritize the safety of the country’s marine ecosystems from plastic pollution.
“As President Marcos mentioned in his inaugural speech, it is important for the Philippines to clean up this plastic menace. Our marine ecosystems hold immense potential in the efforts to curb the impact of the global food crisis, but the threat of destruction and losses is becoming more pronounced as plastic wastes make its way to marine protected areas in different parts of the country. The Marcos administration can do what previous administrations failed to do – muster the political will to fully implement RA 9003 and ban single-use plastics by adding it in the list of non-environmentally acceptable plastics and packaging,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President.
Microplastics, fragments of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size, litter our environment, including marine protected areas. A study by the Coastal Resources and Ecotourism Research, Development and Extension Center (CRERDEC) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) in 2021 confirms the presence of microplastics in at least 10 marine study sites, the highest density is in Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, which is the country’s largest marine protected area and a major fishing ground in the country.
The situation is set to worsen should plastic production continue unabated, according to a study conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ in 2020 which declared that the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean could triple by 2040.
In its participation in the Zero Waste Bazaar and Exhibit at Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City, Oceana highlighted the country’s long-standing battle against plastic pollution in a series of photographs that show how plastic debris have encroached critical marine habitat, including the pristine waters of protected areas and seascapes.
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, has an administrative order banning single-use plastic products. It gives a warning on the first offense and penalizes further violations with a fine of P10,000 for the second offense, P30,000 for the third offense, and a one-year ban from entering TRNP on the fourth offense.
Administrative Order No. 2, series of 2019 was issued by the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) as an effort to protect TRNP from plastic pollution and “contribute to the worldwide efforts to curtail pollution by encouraging the use of environmentally sustainable products and services by its private sector partners.” The ban covers single-use plastic products, including mineral water bottles, plastic cutlery, straws, stirrers, polystyrene (styrofoam) cups and plates, and other similar items.
In a video message, Angelique Songco, site manager of Tubbataha Natural Park, together with youth, fisherfolk and other advocates, shared that the reason she’s taking action against single-use plastic is the dire impacts that she sees on the birds, fishes and wildlife in Tubbataha.
Ramos cited the coral-rich Panaon Island in Southern Leyte as among the marine protected areas where single-use plastic wastes have also found their way. In the expedition conducted by Oceana in 2020, the team found not only impressive coral cover but also plastic wrapped around these. “Though marine pollution in Panaon is less prevalent than in other parts of the Philippines, it serves as a stark reminder that even seemingly pristine and remote habitats cannot escape the scourge of plastics,” she added.
“Make no mistake, the scourge of plastic affects us all. Right now, it is slowly but surely creeping into our marine protected areas and in no time, it will suffocate not only our environment but our very own bodies. Science has presented evidence of this in the microplastics found in our blood and lungs. This can be tremendously remedied by the political will in fully implementing RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” she urged.
Organized by the Plastic-Free Pilipinas movement which includes Oceana, EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace Philippines, No Burn Pilipinas, Mother Earth Adventures, GAIA Asia Pacific, Health Care Without Harm-Asia, and Break Free From Plastic, the Zero Waste Bazaar and Exhibit at Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City runs from July 18-20 and is part of Plastic Free July, a global movement that amplifies the call for strengthened efforts to solve the global plastic crisis.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.
For More Information:
Joyce Sierra, Communications Manager, Oceana
Mobile: 09178214430 E-mail: email@example.com