MANILA, Philippines—As an archipelagic country rich in fish and other marine life, the Philippines has a major role to play in protecting oceans and ensuring the sustainable use of underwater resources, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Friday.
The official represented the Philippines at the second Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) in Washington, DC, on April 22-24, which sought to strengthen cooperation and collaboration among countries in safeguarding the future of marine environments.
“The Philippines, especially, is a major player in the sustainability of coastal and marine resources, being an archipelagic country with 240 million hectares of water, and being at the center of the world’s marine biodiversity,” Paje said in a news release.
The environment chief noted that the country is considered one of the world’s top producers of fish and aquaculture, accounting for 43 percent of marine aquarium fish and 36 percent of marine invertebrates traded globally.
Organized by the World Ocean Council, the SOS is an international conference attended by policymakers and executives from different parts of the world.
First held in Belfast, Ireland, in 2010, it brought together a wide range of industries involved in the use of marine space and resources.
Paje said the country’s participation in the summit was significant in light of preparations undertaken by the government as it hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in 2015.
The Office of the President has tasked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to host the Ministerial Meeting on Oceans or the Blue Environment, a side summit at the Apec.
The Philippines, he noted, is involved in several key collaborations with Southeast Asian neighbors for ocean conservation, including the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Conservation Program with Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is among six countries in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific found in the so-called Coral Triangle, which covers 5.7 million hectares of ocean waters and contains 75 percent of the world’s coral species.