Forty-nine environmental groups and advocates came together recently to declare their support for the protection of the Philippine Rise, which scientific surveys show has one of the country’s few remaining pristine marine ecosystem. The Philippine Rise consists of 24.4 million hectares of undersea mountains, with a land area as big as the Philippine itself.
An expedition team to the Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise, reported 100% coral cover. It also found that the area is a rich spawning ground for assorted fish.
However, ocean conservationists became alarmed over a recently-announced plan for mineral exploration in Benham Bank, which could jeopardize marine habitats.
The group urges the Philippine government to issue an order declaring Benham Bank as a no-take zone, meaning no fishing, mining or drilling activities can take place on or around it, ensuring protection. It calls on the government to prioritize food security and build the resilience of natural habitats to climate change.
It also recommends an immediate creation of a management framework as a precautionary approach for development, ensuring the conservation of resources of the Philippine Rise. It cautions against rushing headlong into ecologically destructive practices.
Lastly, the group reiterates the Philippine government’s duty to defend and protect territory belonging to the Filipino people.
The network of environmentalists, which includes Oceana Philippines, Save Philippine Seas, and World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, calls on citizens to be part of the campaign.
We can declare our support for the protection of the Philippine Rise by signing this petition: goo.gl/nKdo6n
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