PH Rise eyed as protected marine resource reserve
Cagayan de Oro lawmaker Rufus Rodriguez has proposed a measure that would declare as a protected area a large part of Philippine Rise.
Rodriguez said on Thursday that he filed House Bill No. 5687, which would make the 352,390-hectare Benham Bank and its neighboring waters a protected area to be known as the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve.
The lawmaker pointed out that Philippine Rise, an undersea region east of Luzon believed to be over 24 million hectares, is within the country’s 322-kilometer exclusive economic zone. He noted that while the undersea region is 3,000 to 3,500 meters beneath the ocean’s surface, Benham Bank lies just 48 to 70 meters below the sea.
An all-Filipino group of research scientists discovered the proposed protected marine resource reserve in 2014, along with its diverse habitats and fish communities, he said.
According to Rodriguez, Filipinos actually do fishing activities in the area, “but the state of its habitats and biodiversity must be closely monitored to ensure the sustainability of the resources therein.”
“Monitoring and maintaining the high biodiversity and near pristine habitats in the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve will contribute to sustainable fisheries productivity and ecosystem services for present and future generations of Filipinos,” he stressed.
Apart from designating Benham Bank as a protected area, HB 5687 provides additional funding for security forces.
“Most importantly, passing the bill is an exercise of Philippine sovereignty over our waters and the resources therein,” Rodriguez pointed out.
HB 5687 would also mandate the creation of a policy-making body, the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Protected Area Management Board, and includes penal provisions.
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