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Greenpeace: Philippines' Apo Island a 'Ray of Hope' in Marine Protection and Conservation Efforts

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DAUIN, The Philippines -- THE international environmental group Greenpeace describes Apo island in the municipality of Dauin as a "ray of hope" in environmentalists' efforts to promote the protection and conservation of the environment worldwide.

Captain Pete Boquet, chief pilot of the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza, shared the optimism as he and Greenpeace members including Filipino actress and volunteer Angel Aquino toured the area Wednesday and Thursday.

With all the destruction in the environment worldwide, Boquet said, Greenpeace has found a "ray of hope' in Dauin.

Janet Cotter, oceans scientist of Greenpeace International, shared the ship captain's optimism saying she was happy to see in this part of the country a blue print in place on how marine reserves should be managed through the years.

The Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza anchored off the coast of the municipality as part of its global tour to defend the oceans from all forms of environmental destruction.

During his meeting with the group, Dauin Mayor Rodrigo Alanano called the Greenpeace volunteers as "global warriors."

Alanano said that before he became the mayor, his municipality had been reeling from environmental problems brought about by the unchecked poaching of commercial fishing vessels.

He said the volume of wastes from the daily presence of 50 commercial fishing vessels with 50 crewmembers each and the volume of fish caught daily contributed to the contamination of the municipal seas and heavy depletion of the fish stocks as well as the destruction of the corals.

But the mayor said, the Silliman Marine Laboratory and the Provincial Government intervened transforming Dauin's efforts to protect its marine resources into the most well-managed coastal resource worldwide.

The seriousness with which the program has been implemented transformed Apo Island into a popular world dive site, Alanano said.

The municipality is home to nine marine reserves including that of Apo Island, which are regularly monitored by different sectors, including non-government organizations.

Greenpeace started with a campaign in South Africa where scientific whaling and destructive fishing are reported.

They have visited the Mediterranean, India, Singapore, and the Philippines to fight against plastics pollution, mine operations, and oil pollution.

Danny Ocampo, a South-east Asia Greenpeace campaigner, said the group would be happy if 40 percent of the country's seas are declared as marine reserves as a solution to the problem of marine life destruction.

Negros Oriental has a total of 36 marine reserves and is home to one of the world's biggest marine sanctuaries with more than 644 hectares of marine reserve areas between the seas of Bindoy and Ayungon.

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