Duterte lauded for signing Presidential Proclamation to protect Philippine Rise
International group Oceana has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing a presidential proclamation to protect 50,000 hectares of the Philippine Rise, including the pristine Benham Bank, where some areas have 100 percent coral cover, as a “strict protection zone”.
The Philippine Rise is a 24.4-million hectare undersea region located east of Luzon, which includes a 13.4-million hectare outer section that was validated by the United Nations’ Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) as part of the Philippine territory in 2012.
The Presidential proclamation is expected to set the legal framework for the protection and sustainable management of the Philippine Rise as it is automatically subject to the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.
Duterte said the presidential proclamation includes the requirement for continuous assessment of coral reef and fish species, which he said is “vital for the management of the Philippine Rise and its resources”.
He also committed to capacitate Filipino scientists to fulfill their mandates in conducting scientific research in the Philippine Rise.
“This is a remarkable event, especially for the protection of our oceans and ensuring seafood security for future generations, amidst the growing threats of climate change and overfishing,” said Marianne Pan Saniano, marine scientist for Oceana Philippines.
Saniano said that the protection of the Philippine Rise was achieved through the pooled efforts of government agencies and advocates, who supported the urgent call to protect the Philippine Rise, and especially declare the Benham Bank as a strict protection zone.