First of all, let me welcome all the participants composed of representatives from concerned government agencies in the maritime sector for the 127th Maritime Forum. This gathering is being undertaken in coordination with the Maritime League. It is truly an honor to host this event as we continue to work together to ensure that our agencies are being updated on the issues that affect our marine environment and the maritime industry.
Humans have always had a close relationship with the aquatic environment, including the early use of the sea for food harvesting and communication. Today, the sea is an important component of the transportation system, with large amounts of cargo and passengers.
The Philippines is trying to attract more Investors to the local shipping industry. Coastal areas offer plenty of opportunities for recreational activities. They attract lots of enterprises and people, which in turn require other services and establishments to address their residential and recreational needs.
These may include businesses engaged in tourism and recreation, sustainable employment, provenance and identity-building particularly for leisure areas, a platform for transport facilities, ecosystem services (flood control, power generation, etc.), raising property values for property developers, regenerating urban areas, and many others more.
But with any development, safeguards must be put in place and strictly implemented to ensure that marine ecosystems are not degraded and exploited.
I am glad that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is part of this regular meeting of the Maritime League, whose membership includes, but is not limited to the shipping industry, other government agencies in the maritime industry, and marine experts, to ensure that the management of our marine resources are highlighted and issues in their protection are addressed.
The DENR continues to call for the continued protection and conservation of our coastal and marine resources. In 2015, the DENR has launched the project, “Strengthening the Marine Protected Areas (MPAS) to Conserve Marine Key Biodiversity Areas“, which involves the establishment of a more coordinated approach to conservation efforts in the Verde Island passage. This includes the Lanuza Bay in Surigao del Sur, Davao Gulf in Southern Mindanao, Tanon Strait Protected Seascape in Central Visayas and Southern Palawan.
The establishment of MPAS has been proven effective in enabling depleted fish stocks and helping ecosystems to recover and replenish.
At present, there are only 33 MPAS under Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. The law provides the legal framework for the establishment of MPAS. There are already a total of 1,620 MPAS created through local ordinances by virtue of the Fisheries Code of 1998, which mandates that 15 percent of coastal waters be set aside as marine reserves.
In this regard, the DENR recognizes the very important role various government agencies play in protecting our marine environment. We seek for the continued support of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) and all other concerned organizations and institutions in preventing marine pollution.
Again, thank you for sharing your time and expertise in this forum. May this undertaking continue to inspire all of us to work together and move this country forward. Mabuhay tayong lahat!
Welcome remarks of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu during the 127th Maritime Forum held at the EMB Conference Room A, AQMTC Building, Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City on 20 October 2017.