The House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday approved a bill declaring a portion of the Philippine Rise a protected area.
At a congressional hearing Tuesday, the committee, chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., passed a substitute bill to House Bill 36 or the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve (PRMRR) Act authored by Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon.
The bill aims to protect portions of the Philippine Rise region, namely the Benham Bank and its surrounding waters, through sustainable and participatory management.
The areas outside of the strict protection zone shall be designated as the Multiple-Use Zone and the Special Fisheries Management Area (SFMA) pursuant to Republic Act No. 11038.
In defending his bill, Biazon cited experts’ recommendation that a portion of the Philippine Rise be classified as a marine reserve instead of a natural park.
“We were enlightened that it would be best that we would make it a marine reserve in order for us to take advantage of the natural resources therein,” Biazon said.
Declaring it as a marine reserve, he said the 13-million hectare Philippine Rise undersea plateau off Aurora province would give the country more opportunity to take advantage of the natural resources.
The bill proposes the creation of a Special Fisheries Management Area within the PRMRR under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.