Declare part of PH Rise ‘no take zone,’ Duterte urged
Environmental groups on Thursday called on the government to exercise jurisdiction over the Philippine Rise by declaring part of it, the 17,000-hectare Benham Bank, as a “no-take” zone, where fishing and other human activity would be prohibited.
On Wednesday, groups led by Oceana Philippines delivered a letter and a petition to protect the Philippine Rise to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. The petition had garnered 9,000 signatures.
Oceana Philippines was joined by other environmentalists from groups like “Pangisda Natin Gawing Tama” (Panagat), Greenpeace coalition, World Wide Fund for Nature, Tambuyog and Nongovernmental Organizations for Fisheries Reform.
In a statement, Oceana’s Benham Rise campaign team leader Marianne Saniano said: “There’s something Secretary Cimatu can do right now and that is to have the 17,000-ha Benham Bank declared as a ‘no-take’ zone.”
According to Saniano, Republic Act No. 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, authorized the President to declare an area protected if it was endorsed by the environment secretary.
She said should Benham Bank, which makes up only a fraction of the 24.4-million ha Philippine Rise, including the 11-million ha extended continental shelf, be declared a no-take zone, it would be legally protected from human activity such as fishing.
The Philippine Rise needed protection because it has become a “sanctuary for threatened species,” said Arnel Yaptinchay, director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.
According to the Panagat coalition, Benham Bank is part of “the known spawning area” of the Pacific bluefin tuna, “one of the most expensive fish on Earth.”
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