Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña has asked researchers to do more scientific studies on high potential fishery resources like seaweeds and on Benham Rise, also known as the Benham Plateau.
Speaking before 300 delegates composed of scientists, academicians, researchers and various industry stakeholders, de la Peña said, “The Department of Science and Technology is focusing on strengthening research and development initiatives in various fields including the fisheries sector because this will provide more opportunities for our marginalized fishermen in the regions and will help them uplift their economic condition.”
He cited, in particular, the importance of Benham Rise in the Duterte administration’s objective of reducing economic inequality through creation of more income opportunities coming from marine resources.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the country ranked 8th among the top fish producers in the world in 2016, with Central Visayas at the forefront.
Benham Rise is a seismically active undersea region estimated to cover an area of about 13 million hectares located east of Luzon and is 35 meters underwater with the shallowest point located off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela.
In April 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea already recognized and officially approved the Philippines’ claim to Benham Rise as part of its continental shelf and territory.
Based on initial studies Benham Rise is rich in mineral, oil and gas deposits like solidified methane that could help the country achieve self-sufficiency in energy.
Sharing DoST’s vision on R&D is Bohol 2nd District Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, chairman of the science and technology committee in the House of Representatives.
“I fully recognize the importance of science and technology in developing our economy and I am supporting R&D activities particularly of the DoST in the fisheries sector as these will open doors to more opportunities without compromising the future,” Aumentado said.
The congressman also called for stronger cooperation among different sectors of society, the government, the private sector and the academe.
De la Peña and Aumentado were speakers at the Visayas Regional Scientific Meeting held last month in Cebu City.