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Celebrating the oceans of the Philippines this May

A hawksbill turtle resting on the reef

Critically endangered species like the hawksbill turtle call Philippine coral reefs home. (PEMSEA / John Andrew Cabiles)

This May is the Philippines’ 19th annual Month of the Ocean, an occasion started in 1999 following the UN’s International Year of the Ocean in 1998. The event is held to promote awareness and sustainability of the ecological and economic benefits of a healthy ocean. During this month, Philippine government agencies are tasked with implementing activities that highlight the importance of the conservation, protection, and sustainable management of the rich coastal and ocean resources the of the Philippines.

May was chosen due to its importance as the peak month for fishing. Fishing is an industry that supports the lives and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos, both due to its economic activity and its provision of a crucial source of sustenance for coastal communities around the Philippine archipelago.

The theme for this May is “Together for Our Reefs”. Coral reefs have immense value for the Philippines, which is a global hotspot for reef biodiversity. In addition to the direct economic benefits accrued through activities such as ecotourism, coral reefs provide numerous ancillary ecosystem services such as providing nurseries for fish and reducing the impact of heavy storms and rising sea levels on coastal communities.

PEMSEA has long supported the preservation of these vitally important ecosystems within the context of integrated coastal management (ICM), and coral reefs are present within many of our ICM sites. We hope that the activities taking place across the country this month can build on the good work that’s been done, and further progress this archipelagic nation towards a sustainable future for its coastal communities.