Subject: Six nations complete plan to protect Coral Triangle

The Manila Times

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Six nations complete plan to protect Coral Triangle

SIX state officials and technical experts have finalized a draft action plan to restore the damage caused by decades of destructive fishing practices, pollution and coastal habitat conversions, among others, over the Coral Triangle.

During the conclusion of the three-day Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) meeting in the country, scientists and senior government officials from six countries agreed to undertake multilateral collaboration to reverse the degradation of the Coral Triangle, considered the world’s center of marine biological diversity and one of humanity’s greatest common heritage treasures.

“The CTI will prove the proposition that a region of immense but fragile natural wealth will inspire cooperation among the six countries to conserve our natural wealth and nurse it back from fragility to sustainability,” Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said.

Based on the Manila resolution, the six countries that the Coral Triangle encompasses resolved to finalize in the next months the Regional Plan of Action, and endorse the holding of a ministerial meeting on February 19, 2009 in Madang, <>Papua New Guinea.

At Madang, the six nations are expected to approve the final version of the regional action plan for consideration of government heads during the May 2009 World Ocean’s conference.

The Manila resolution was signed by the state officials of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, <>Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste on October 23, 2008.

“The degradation of the Coral Triangle is so great that we must hurry to preserve the best of it,” said Dr. J.E.N. “Charlie” Veron, a marine scientist.

Earlier, United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney described the Coral Triangle countries as “superpowers in terms of biodiversity” and congratulated the triangle’s <>member nations for stepping up to meet the responsibilities of protecting the region’s marine resources.

Kenney said the US government is pledging nearly $40 million to support Coral Triangle Initiative, which will also be funded by grants to nongovernment organization partners and the initiative’s secretariat.

The Coral Triangle is the global epicenter of marine species diversity, with an area covering about six million square kilometers. It is a source of livelihood and life support for 150 million people and spans six countries.

Studies show that the Coral Triangle has more than one-third of all the world’s coral reef and harbors more than 600 species of reef-building coral, or 75 percent of all known coral species and over 3,000 species of reef fish.

It also holds nearly 75 percent of the world’s mangrove species and at least 22 species of marine mammals­an astounding level of diversity concentrated in less than 1 percent of the world ocean’s surface area.–Ira Karen Apanay

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