Malacanang calls public not to buy black corals

Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On the illicit trade of black coral
[Released on May 26, 2011]
“When bad news is good news”
black coral and red coralWe need greater scrutiny of the trade in black corals so that Philippine authorities can work with their counterparts in other places, as it is in all our interest to stamp out this destructive trade.
As in other environmental protection efforts, where biodiversity is under threat, an essential element in the effort is to educate the public to do its part not to make plunder pay off for poachers.
This requires, among others, the buying public to boycott those who sell jewelry made from black coral. We call on consumers the world over to make a similar commitment to saving the biodiversity of our seas, by refusing to buy black coral items.
There are instances, for example, where black coral from the Philippines is exported to other countries to be passed off as sourced in those countries. For this reason we ask the cooperation of Filipinos abroad to look into black coral sold in other countries that may include smuggled Philippine black coral.
We must bear in mind that even as our authorities such as the Bureaus of Customs, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and departments like the DENR work to interdict the poachers and their contraband, establishing protected areas and making them successful is, ultimately, what will stem the tide of environmental destruction.
For every major success story like the protection of Tubbataha Reef and the cooperation between foreign governments and the Philippines, national and local authorities, and government and NGOs it represents, there remain the threats represented by poachers: as proven by the confiscation of poached goods.
News such as the report of the confiscation of illegally harvested black coral from the Sulu Sea today and yesterday helps the authorities identify areas in which to intensify our patrols. It also alerts NGOs committed to saving the environment, and individuals such as divers who have a vested interest in protecting our marine biodiversity, to step up their advocacies to help our common cause: making a difference in safeguarding our coral reefs. In this manner, success stories will turn into environmental victories.
We call on LGUs to refer to, and implement, the guidebook on Coral Reef Protection issued by the DENR last year. Our local governments can learn from the best practices of their fellow LGUs.
For example the partnership between the UP Marine Science Institute and the municipality of Bolinao, Pangasinan where training workshops and coral transplantation have been undertaken in the coastal barangays of Lucero, Balingasay, Binabalian and Victory, to name a few. In Occidental Mindoro, the municipalities of Looc and Lubang last year passed ordinances establishing marine management areas around the Lubang islands in the Verde Island Passage; and the Kilusan Sagip Kalikasan in Palawan and its efforts against cyanide fishers.