Greenpeace ship in Philippines on ‘Ocean Defender Tour’

Manila, Philippines -- A Greenpeace vessel is in the country, sailing first to the Apo Island marine sanctuary in Negros Oriental as part of a three-week expedition to raise awareness on the preservation and conservation of marine resources.

The MV Esperanza (Spanish for Hope), the largest ship in the Greenpeace fleet, arrived in the country yesterday for a three-week journey from Visayas to Manila dubbed "Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia 2013."

Apo Island is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental.

"Our warmest welcome to Esperanza and her crew for her visit to the municipality of Dauin especially to Apo Island," Dauin Mayor Neil Credo said. "We are glad that we are one of your chosen destinations in the country in your mission is to revive marine treasures," he added.

"Dauin is known to have successfully implemented the coastal resource management program, and behind this is every Dauinanons' support to preserve and conserve marine resources. Rest assured that we will always be with you in achieving your mission," Credo said.

Apo Island Marine Sanctuary is one of the oldest protected marine reserves in the Philippines and is part of the Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape. The site has inspired the establishment of other Marine Protected Areas not only in the Philippines but also in other countries for its exemplary management and biodiversity.

Greenpeace will be assisting in an ongoing reef check conducted by the Silliman University and Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF).

After the reef check in Apo Island, the Esperanza is set to call on the port of Dumaguete on July 12 for activities aimed at raising public awareness on how we can all help in defending our seas. The ship will be open to the public on July 13 for tours.

"Apo Island Marine Sanctuary has always been a model of hope that shows how oceans can be restored when they are successfully protected," said Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans campaigner.

"But the sanctuary, just like the rest of the Philippines' seas, is in crisis. The Esperanza is here to call on all sectors, government, private, non-government organizations and individuals, to work together to restore the health and productivity our country's oceans," he said.

The Greenpeace oceans campaign started in Indonesia last May with another Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, hosting onboard Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and members of his cabinet. In June, the Esperanza visited Thailand to call for an end destructive fishing in the Gulf of Thailand.

This is MV Esperanza's third visit to the Philippines. While here, she will also be visiting Bicol and Manila to work with scientists, coastal communities and Church groups to revive our oceans and fisheries.

Esperanza was last in the country in December 2012 when it helped the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other aid organizations in delivering relief goods to Mindanao immediately after typhoon Pablo. Back in 2006, during its first visit to the Philippines, the Esperanza crew assisted the Philippine Coast Guard in mitigating the oil spill in Guimaras Island.