As an archipelago, the Philippines is blessed with seas teeming with a rich diversity of marine life. The Philippine seas, particularly the Verde Island Passage and other areas included in the Coral Triangle, have one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world.
Many Filipinos benefited from these abundance. From fishing to tourism, the sea and all its inhabitants have provided several Filipinos the means of livelihood. Unfortunately, the marine ecosystem is getting the brunt of it. Several marine species are now on the brink of extinction and the seas are no longer as pristine and abundant as they used to be due to illegal and overfishing, poor management, improper disposal of waste, and many other activities that are potentially destructive not only to the sea but the earth in general.
Thankfully, efforts are being done to address the problems concerning the deterioration of the Philippine marine ecosystem. Here are some ways on how you can help.
1 | Use plastic-free alternatives
Plastic is dangerous to marine animals and it can cause death when swallowed. With the huge quantity of plastic ending up in the oceans every year, it already seems normal to read or hear news about dead fish or turtles with a stomach filled with plastics.
As much as possible, avoid using plastic and switch plastic-free alternatives instead. Urge businesses such as restaurants and shops to provide customers with earth-friendly alternatives so as to lessen the use of plastic bags, cutlery, straws, take-out food containers, water bottles, and many more. Bring your own reusable bags, straws, and water bottles so you have something to use when the plastic-free option is not available. Or if you can, avoid businesses that are not doing any effort to lessen their plastic usage. Decrease in customers is the best way to get their attention and get them to change their ways.
2 | Cut down on waste
Proper disposal of waste is good. Cutting down on waste is better. Good quality items last longer so you never have to constantly replace and throw out items that no longer work. Use rechargeable batteries and reusable cutlery and water bottles. You may also want to consider buying second-hand appliances, furniture, and vehicles.
3 | Reduce pollutants
The use of toxic chemicals and ocean-harming products should be highly discouraged in order to further reduce pollutants. Choose marine-friendly sunblocks and dispose of chemicals properly.
4 | Reduce your carbon footprint
Carbon dioxide can cause negative effects not only to humans but to the seas as well. It makes the water acidic which is not good for the corals. It doesn’t look much but by simply being mindful of our ways and activities, we can help lessen the carbon footprint that can affect the ecosystem. Using energy-efficient lights, turning off the lights when no one is in the room and drying the clothes under the sun are some of the simple ways we can do. Walking, riding a bike, ride-sharing, and using public transportation helps, too.
5 | Eat Sustainable seafood
Helping protect and preserve the seas and all the creatures in it doesn’t necessarily mean not eating seafood at all. You just have to eat seafood sustainably and one way to do so is to avoid eating aquatic species with dwindling populations such as Napoleon wrasse, Manta ray, whale shark, and giant clam. You can visit the website of SEAFDEC (Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center) for the list of protected aquatic species.
6 | Fish responsibly
Whether you fish for fun or livelihood, always remember to fish responsibly. Know your aquatic species and find out which ones are regulated and not. Avoid fishing in marine protected areas and never use harmful and illegal fishing methods for they are destructive and can get you in jail. Cleaning your fishing gear before and after your fishing trip can help reduce the spread of diseases that can damage marine life.
If fishing for fun, practice “catch and release” style so more fishes stay alive.
7 | Practice safe boating
Be mindful when operating a boat. Make sure to anchor in sandy areas far from coral and sea grasses to prevent destroying the vegetation fishes and crustaceans rely on for habitat and food.
8 | Support sea protection endeavours
There are several government and private groups and organizations such as Greenpeace Philippines and Save Philippine Seas geared toward protecting Philippine seas. You can support these groups by taking part in the activities and donating your services or resources. You can join beach clean ups, tree-planting activities, or charity events to raise funds for the benefit of the marine ecosystem.
9 | Vote for the right public leaders
When choosing public officials, consider voting for candidates who support not only the protection of the marine ecosystem but nature conservancy in general. And when they’re elected, ask for updates and regularly remind them of their responsibilities.
10 | Inspire others to do the same
Put social media to good use by spreading the word and eventually inspire others to join you in protecting the sea.