About 1,000 square kilometres or just 5 percent of the Philippines’ total reef area remain in good condition. It was estimated that the total reef area of the Philippines could be anywhere between 19,000 to 27,000 square kilometres, depending on the territorial boundaries and depth ranges, according to a report by BusinessMirror.
The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau earlier reported that poachers have destroyed 190.8 square kilometers of reefs in Southern Mindanao. The damaged area represents almost five times the size of Metro Manila. The poachers were caught harvesting more than 21,000 pieces of black coral. They are believed to have killed 161 endangered turtles and other marine life.
Dr. Porfirio Alino of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) said the Philippines, which is considered as the centre of marine biodiversity in the world, may lose this distinction given the rapid deterioration of its marine resources.
The remaining healthy reefs are located in the Celebes Sea, Southern Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea and the waters in the Visayas. “There has also been a profound reduction by around 20 percent, especially in the Visayan seas, of the marine reef fish biodiversity in the last three decades,” Dr. Alino said.