LAWMAKERS from the House of Representatives are urging the Department of Agriculture to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout the archipelago to protect the country’s coastal areas.
Rep. Benhur Salimbangon of the 4th District of Cebu, chairman of the House Committee on Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources, said there is a need for the establishment of MPAs in all coastal cities and municipalities nationwide, since there are dangers facing the country’s marine ecosystem.
“Several developments, such as climate change, siltation due to deforestation and bad agricultural practices, coastal land development, industrial pollutants, destructive fishing methods, overfishing and gleaning, and other extractive activities, such as aquarium fishing, mariculture, and coral extraction pose greater threat on our marine ecosystem,” Salimbangon said.
Rep. Lawrence Lemuel H. Fortun of 1st District of Agusan del Norte, author of House Bill 5836, said the proposed Marine and Coastal Resources Protection Act seeks to ensure the participation of the community in the protection of marine protected areas.
“While our marine resources continue to decline, our population on the other hand, continues to grow at a pace faster than our Southeast Asian neighbors,” Fortun said.
Fortun stressed the need for a concerted effort among the local communities to protect the country’s municipal coasts.
“There is an urgent need to guarantee ecological stability while addressing food security and economic sustainability of the marginalized fisherfolk,” Fortun said.
The bill mandates all coastal local government units (LGUs), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs), the concerned sectors and civil society to identify, establish and manage the MPAs.
Under the bill, all coastal municipalities and cities shall establish at least one MPA within municipal waters to conserve and manage natural marine resources.
The House of Representatives has approved the bill on third and final reading. The bill has been transmitted to the Senate for plenary action.