Call to declare Panaon protected seascape aired
‘We call for the urgency of the measure as we race against time in achieving the targets and more importantly, in preserving the integrity of the natural life support system that our coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and wetlands provide.’
Photo Courtesy: Oceana Philippines / D. de Jesus
TACLOBAN CITY — An international environmental group called on Congress for the immediate passage of a bill that will declare the island at the southernmost tip of Southern Leyte as a protected seascape under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act or RA 11038.
Oceana, an international advocacy organization, said the waters of Panaon Island have coral reefs with up to 60 percent of very good coral cover, way above the national average of only 20percent.
The House Committee on Natural Resources provisionally approved the consolidated bill for the proposed Panaon Island seascape pending the submission of a minor revision to the technical description from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
The Mapping Authority committed to submitting this by next week.
The new call for the enactment of the bill into a law came after the Department of Environment and Natural Resource recently endorsed its official designation to the House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
If passed into law, the proposed seascape will be called Panaon Island Protected Seascape with an area of about 61,204 hectares or 612.04 sq km covering the municipalities of Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, and San Ricardo in Southern Leyte.
“We call for the urgency of the measure as we race against time in achieving the targets and more importantly, in preserving the integrity of the natural life support system that our coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and wetlands provide,” says lawyer Liza Osorio, Oceana Acting Vice President.
“The destruction of these invaluable havens for the people and wildlife persists and will get worse if we will continue to lay back and take our own sweet time taking action,” she added.
As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Philippines committed to support the initiatives to ensure that at least 30 percent of the global ocean, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed by 2030.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk, and other stakeholders to restore the abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.
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