Philippines wants 5 sites included in marine protected areas

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is pitching five sites to be part of a marine protected area (MPA) management project in the ASEAN to be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

These sites include the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), the Ticao-Burias Pass Protected Seascape (TBPPS), Agoo Damortis Protected Landscape & Seascape (ADPLS), Bani-Bolinao-Burgos-Infanta, Dasol-Agno MPAN (MPA Network); and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS).

The list was formed after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) convened stakeholders of the project, Effectively Managing Networks of Marine Protected Areas in Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) in ASEAN or (ENMAPS).

This is to gather and consolidate data as it is scheduled to submit its project proposal to its funder – the Global Environment Facility (GEF) by March 2023.

The sites being chosen for ENMAPS are biodiversity-rich sites that also face threats of environmental degradation. Beneficiaries of the project are Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.

Other ASEAN Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) sites under the project are the Gulf of Thailand/Andaman Sea of Bay of Bengal, Indonesian Seas, and South China Sea.

ENMAPS aims to develop and improve the management of networks of MPAs and marine corridors within selected LMEs in the ASEAN region. It aims to conserve globally significant biodiversity and support for sustainable fisheries for people’s livelihood and other ecosystem goods and services.

The ASEAN ENMAPS project will also be executed by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in collaboration with the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).

It also includes national technical working groups from DENR’s Foreign Assisted & Special Projects Services (FASPS); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Fisheries Research & Development Institute, and PEMSEA (Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia).

The Coastal and Marine Biodiversity of ASEAN is known to have 20 percent of the world’s seagrass beds, a third of world’s mangrove forests with 45 to 75 true species, and a third of the world’s coral reefs with more than 75 percent of species of coral and 40 percent of fish species.

The GEF has been concerned that the world’s oceans have been reaching their ecological carrying capacity, a limit to their ability to produce fish for food.

“More than 75 percent of world fish stocks are already fully exploited, over exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion,” according to the GEF website.

GEF has supported sustainable governance of 23 LMEs involving collaborative of work of many countries. The world’s oceans are known to be divided into 66 LMEs. This area covers 7.7 million square kilometers with 173,000 km of coastline.

LMEs are huge marine areas extending beyond boundaries among countries which is why collaboration is important here. ENMAPS has a cost of $77.596 million. Of this, $12.548 million consists of GEF grant.

UNDP’s procedure aligns with the Social and Environmental Standards or SES. This means that the project will integrate SES principles as it undertakes the project. Such principles include human rights protection, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. It will assess social and environmental issues to address risks.

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