Pena: Month of the oceans

E-SSUE is back after my mandatory leave of absence due the election campaign. A word of thanks to all the people who helped me in my campaign as a returning councilor of Mabalacat City. It was a difficult and challenging fight, but it was made easier by all the people who contributed to this victory. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my fellow Mabalaqueños, rest assured that I will do my best to serve you and our beloved city.

Last Monday, I treated my campaign team to a beach outing in Morong, Bataan. I chose a resort which I already visited a couple of times. The owner is a kapampangan from Guagua. To my disappointment, the place is no longer what it used to be. The water is not pristine anymore. Plastics, cigarette butts and trash litter the place. The whole stretch of the coastline is now occupied with resorts.

Such is the sorry state of our beaches. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, and plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and death. Plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.

Other than trash, our oceans are faced with many environmental problems. According to the National Geographic, these threats include oil spills, global warming which is causing sea levels to rise and causing coral bleaching and pesticides and nutrients used in agriculture ending up in the coastal waters resulting in oxygen depletion that kills marine plants and shellfish.

Factories and industrial plants also discharge sewage and other runoff into the oceans. There are also invasive species such as poisonous algae, cholera, and countless plants and animals that have entered harbor waters and disrupted the ecological balance. The biggest problem is the depletion of fish stocks. It affects the livelihood of millions of people. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 31.4 percent of fish stocks are either fished to capacity or overfished.

To create awareness on the need to protect our oceans, the World Oceans Day was established by the United Nations. It is celebrated every June 8. In the Philippines however, the Month of the Ocean (MOO) is celebrated annually during the month of May by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999. Activities to be conducted in observance of the MOO aims to highlight the importance and significance of conservation, protection, and sustainable management of Philippine coastal and marine resources.

Let’s do our part in protecting our oceans. One simple step we can do is to make sure our trash doesn’t end up in rivers and creeks, which will eventually drain into the ocean.


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