Feature: Marine Biodiversity and human life

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, May 5, (PIA1) — Everyone is interested in marine life, yet only few are aware of its significance to human life. 

Based on a report of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity reviewed by Norse, understanding marine biodiversity is very important for a number of reasons. One could argue that marine biodiversity has innate importance, as life has value on its own. 

These comprised the following categories: 

Adaptation. Biodiversity allows the environment to adapt to changing conditions, which has been the case since life was created. Humans have acted to increase the rate of deterioration and consequently, it will be a great challenge for the marine environment to adapt rapidly enough in the future. These changes have been induced through pollution, fishing, sediment deposition and alteration of the global climate. Considering the present human impact on the environment, it is ironic that without genetic diversity, natural selection cannot occur. If natural selection is limited, then adaptation is impossible. Thus, it is evident that the preservation of biodiversity and more specifically, genetic diversity is of paramount importance if we are to allow proper adaptation to our rapidly changing environments. 

Food. Food is a very important commodity that can be provided by our oceans including fishes, invertebrates and algae. Finfish and shellfish are the greatest source of animal protein especially for developing countries. Very few of the world’s fish are utilized commercially and thus, the oceans are a source for unutilized resources. Furthermore, a diverse ocean could potentially help to alleviate current and future commercial fishing pressures. 

Raw Materials. The potential for acquiring future raw materials from the ocean is enormous. These materials include medicines, polysaccharides, feed for livestock and building materials. 

Natural medicines began and continue to be discovered through the wealth of diversity on the planet. Although most medicines originate from sessile land plants, the ocean hosts many sessile animals that defend themselves through chemical means. Furthermore, the marine realm hosts a higher biochemical diversify resulting from the high phyletic diversity present in these waters. It is possible that chemicals for pharmaceuticals could be obtained from these organisms which use these substances for defense. 

Climate. Ecosystems are one of the most important factors that control the global climate. The biogeochemical cycling of gases is greatly controlled by the living biota existing on earth of which the marine realm is extremely important. For example, marine plants and animals aid in controlling carbon dioxide in the ocean, as phytoplankton remove it from the surface waters while releasing oxygen. Subsequently, when phytoplankton die, they sink and add to the super saturation of carbon dioxide in the deep sea. This results in a vertical gradient of carbon dioxide in the ocean, which has been termed the ‘Biological Pump.’ 

These factors should be fully understood by the people to draw support and commitment in so far as preservation and protection of our marine resources is concerned. 

This month of May, we celebrate the National Month of the Ocean and Marine Biodiversity for International Day of Biodiversity with the theme, “Buhay Dagat, Buhay Natin”, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 57 declaring issued by then President Joseph Estrada in 1999. 

The DENR, as the lead agency, has lined-up activities highlighting the importance of the country’s marine resources in sustaining human life. Most of which are advocacy activities focusing on the youth, who are the future recipients of all efforts to preserve and protect our oceans.(JCR/MHH PIA1 La Union with reports from Centre for Marine Biodiversity and DENR)

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