Environmental groups celebrate the signing of Presidential Proclamation 489, declaring a portion of the Philippine Rise as a marine resource reserve. The protected area is to cover 350,000 hectares of the undersea region under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.
Hailed as a landmark environmental policy, different groups have lauded the decision especially as it protects one of the most diverse marine areas within the country’s territory.
Of the 350,000 hectares covered in Presidential Proclamation 489, a seventh of it will be a strict-protection area. This means that only scientific research can be done in it.
Environmental groups rejoice
Due to the signing of the proclamation, different environmental organizations assembled three shark mascots and a hundred dancers on a flash mob in the Quezon City Memorial Cicle on May 21. This is a symbol for a big triumph for the marine conservation and sustainable fishing movement in the country.
The heads of the environmental groups have called on government agencies, the private sector and other organizations to work even harder to make sure that the country’s biodiversity and marine resources are not subjected to illegal and destructive practices.
Additionally, they would like the government to allocate more resources to ensure the conservation and protection of the area. This includes strengthening and capacitating both citizens and scientists to be able to implement a sustainable management plan for the Rise.
People’s organizations, led by the network of NGOs PAngisdaNAtin GAwing Tama (PaNaGaT), also thanked the efforts of many government agencies, civil society actors and scientists in helping to lobby for the proclamation.
Among the groups that participated in the action include Oceana Philippines, Eco-waste Coalition and Buklod Tao.
Philippine Rise’s special value
The Philippine Rise is made up of 24.4 million hectares of undersea bed that is located east of the country. More than half of this region has been validated to be a confirmed part of Philippine territory by the United Nations’ Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) back in 2012.
The Pacific Bluefin Tuna, one of the most valuable fish in the world, also breeds mainly in the Philippine Rise. This gives the country a big competitive advantage as this specific species of tuna is of high demand worldwide.
Apart from the Pacific Bluefin Tuna, there are also at least 170 types of fish that can be found in the region. The founding were concluded in the shallowest part of the Philippine Rise called the Benham Bank.
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