We had the opportunity to go diving again after a long time.
It seems like a life time as we used to go regularly home to the oceans where over forty years ago, we would document coral growth and measure their growth.
It was here in the seas that we really learned about the value of the environment, particularly the marine environment.
It was here that we realized the importance of the terrestrial forest and the reaction that logging and pollution would have in the marine environment.
It was here that our resolve and commitment to protect and conserve our environment began.
Our most effective classroom.
We have gone a long way since and yet the planet continues to face destruction as logging, extraction and pollution of our land and seas continue with a more rapid pace.
We were saddened to see what we saw during our dive. Gone were the schools of jack fish, gone to our surprise were the snappers that used to hide in every coral reef, gone were the lobsters that used to live in the reefs; gone were the cowries, cone and other shells that used to proliferate the seas.
We dove in several sites along Maricaban island and Sombrero in Anilao, Mabini in Batangas.
This area has become the center of diving as it is part of the coral triangle.
There were no resorts then like they have today. It was better and richer then as we just camped on the beaches and caught the fish that we would eat.
Last week, what we saw was a proliferation of resorts and foreign divers who show very little respect for our coral reefs.
One resort owner mentioned that competition was stiffer as many resorts have proliferated in the place.
In our mind, the area will eventually die a natural death as the tourists and divers will stop going there if the coral reefs are destroyed and their pristine form will no longer shine.
Many people do not know that the seas and oceans are alive. They harbor species that provide us with food. They sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide and serve as a carbon sink.
More than that, they cover two-thirds of the planet -- supplying the 7 billion inhabitants with food and livelihood.
We need to put strict guidelines on scuba diving and how to protect our coral reefs -- the beginning of the food chain in the marine environment.
If we cannot even do this, what more the war to combat climate change?
It is all in our hands and our leaders must act accordingly.
It’s simple: dead ocean and we will have no more fish and shells for food and no more carbon sinks.
Let us not underestimate the value of our seas.
Save our seas or we will all perish.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP)