Environmentalists urge DENR to declare Benham Bank as ‘no-take’ zone
Led by four dancing shark mascots, environmentalists recently visited the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deliver a message to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
The content of the card, which was supported by over 50 institutions and leaders nationwide, asks Cimatu to protect the Philippine Rise and declare Benham Bank, the shallowest part of the Philippine Rise, as a ‘no-take’ zone.
Delivered along with the letter were over 9000 signatures from Oceana’s online petition to protect the Philippine Rise.
“The full protection and management of the entire 24-million hectare Philippine Rise might take months,” said Oceana Benham Rise Campaign Team Leader Marianne Saniano. “However, there’s something Sec. Cimatu can do right now – and that is to have the 17,000 hectare Benham Bank declared as a ‘no-take’ zone.”
Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, the President can declare certain areas as protected with the endorsement of the DENR Secretary.
The declaration of Benham Bank as a ‘no-take’ zone would trigger legal protection of the pristine area from human activity.
Spanning 17,000 hectares, it occupies less than 1 percent of the Philippine Rise. ‘No-take’ zones have been proven to work in other coral reefs and protected areas in the Philippines, such as Apo Reef in Mindoro and the famed Tubbataha Reefs in Palawan.