Free the Sea from Marine Debris

August 7, 2019

Haribon Member Sherry Gocheco attended the event “Closing the Loop”, as part of a network-wide campaign entitled “Free the Sea from Marine Debris” led by the DENR Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program. Here she shares her thoughts on the topic of plastic, after attending the event.

A Little egret, just as white as the styrofoam cup beside it.

Three times a week, I see truckloads of garbage being collected by garbage collectors.  I can not help but think, if only each home would:

  • Refuse things that are not needed, 
  • Reduce what is needed, 
  • Reuse the things that was left after reducing, 
  • Recycle, and only use items that can be Recycled and;
  • Rot (compost) all biodegradable substances.

With reduced waste, there would be less problems with air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, marine debris, landfills, and more. 

Realistically speaking, adhering to the 5Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot) is not easy. It requires perseverance and extra effort as it veers away from what society is accustomed to. Thus, this event would give me a glimpse of how I can tap business and government sector projects, and maybe ease my efforts on lessening waste. 

I was glad that the event started with a video on marine debris as it sets everyone on the same context. As always, it broke my heart to see dead wildlife with dissected stomachs full of plastic. My heart goes out to these innocent creatures.The video on marine debris by WWF (World Wide Fund) kickstarted the presentations from the Business Sector, Government Sector, Non-Government Organizations Sector.

Presenters from the different sectors included Unilever and Human Heart Nature; government representatives included the Climate Change Commission, Bureau of Fisheries, and DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau; while NGO leaders included Aimee Gonzales of PEMSEA, Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas, and Rocky Tirona of RARE Philippines.

Left to right: Mr. Jose Palma (Moderator), Ms. Aimee Gonzales (PEMSEA), Ms. Anna Oposa (Save Philippine Seas), and Ms. Rocky Tirona (RARE Philippines).

Each group was allowed time to present their work in lessening marine debris. A Q&A portion followed after the institutions of each sector finished presenting. 

Left to right: Mr. Noel Gaerlan (Climate Change Commission), Representative of Mr. Eduardo Gongona (Bureau of Fisheries), Mr. Crispian Lao (Moderator), and Mr. Ricardo Calderon (Biodiversity Management Bureau).

Hearing each group’s presentation made me aware of what was happening around me and what was being done about it. Some of the groups did remarkable changes within their circle of influence. But sadly this is still not enough. We need more collaborations among these 3 sectors to close the loop. There is still much work to be done. 

Let us not be disheartened, we must continue to move forward. We need everyone to pitch in to reverse the environmental damage we’ve done. As the saying goes, “There’s strength in numbers”. And the good thing is, we don’t need to look far to make a difference. We can start right where we are: at home or in the workplace. At the least, we should support people or institutions involved with environment conservation projects. 

We do not have much time.  The time to start is NOW!