A National Geographic emerging explorer and the granddaughter of popular explorer and scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau yesterday called for ocean conservation especially in the Tañon Strait Protective Seascape (TSPS) in the country.
Alexandra Cousteau, who was in Cebu City yesterday, joined the Ocean Talks forum together with government officials at the Cebu City Sports Club.
“What brings us together today is the opportunity to restore the abundance in the oceans,” Cousteau said in her speech.
Cousteau is the current senior advisor of Oceana. She joined the international nongovernment organization in 2011 to help the advocacy through expeditions.
“Philippines belongs to the Filipino people. You are the center of the biodiversity in this planet,” she added.
For her, what is important is the opportunity to restore the ocean and it is meaningful.
“Conservation is not just sacrifice. This is not just about the whales, dolphins and turtles but to restore these resources for people,” Cousteau said.
Conservation is also an opportunity to make better for everyone.
Despite TSPS being protected, Cousteau said this needs enforcement of the law.
“This needs more boats, more people along the Tañon Strait,” she added.
In 1988, former president Fidel Ramos issued Presidential Decree 1234 that proclaimed the Tañon Strait as a protected area where commercial fishing is prohibited. It is an important migration corridor that is 161 km long where 14 species of sea mammals, 18,830 ha. of coral reefs and 5,000 ha of mangrove areas with 26 known mangrove species are found.
Cousteau will be staying in the country for 12 days. Aside from Cebu, she also went to Apo Island in Negros Oriental. She will also leave today for Palawan.
Baltazar Tribunalo, head of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRMMO); Elias Fernandez Jr., Department of Interior and Local Government-Central Visayas (DILG-7) assistant regional director; and Alan Poquita, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR-7) assistant regional director were among the government officials who attended the Ocean Talk forum.
“Let us work together in terms of laws and enforcement. Let us help the lives of the fishermen,” said Tribunalo, who represented Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and assured of the governor’s support in protecting the ocean.
Fernandez and Poquita also promised to support Costeau’s advocacy to protect the ocean.
“We will not abandon (Tañon Strait) and will collectively work with other government agencies for this advocacy,” said Poquita.