DENR intensifies protection of marine resources in Zambales

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here recently intensified its campaign on the protection and conservation of marine resources in the more than 7,000-ha Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape (MOBPLS) in Masinloc town in Zambales through the launching of a flagship species mascot named “Maggie”, under the Costal and Marine Ecosystem Management Program (CMEMP), environment authorities said.

Arthur Salazar, deputy director for Technical Services of DENR Central Luzon said the mascot Maggie symbolizes the blue spotted rabbit fish scientific Siganus corallinus, which is now threatened in the MOBPLS.

“Maggie was named after the pristine Magalawa Island in Zambales. The fishing for this flagship species is now being regulated by the local government unit because of its declining population,” he explained.

He said the blue spotted rabbit fish was chosen by local communities as flagship species because of its economic and ecological importance, being a major food source and livelihood for the fisher folk in the area.

“We have to protect and save our fish resources and other marine life because they are important part of our ecosystem and as source of food to the increasing coastal population,” Salazar pointed out.

According to Minerva Martinez, chief of the conservation division, Maggie is as a symbol to bring public awareness on the protection and conservation of coastal and marine resources and to bring unity of purpose in protecting the Masinloc-Oyon Bay.

“Maggie is not just a mascot but is meant to remind us that each of our actions, whether big or small, has an impact on other living creatures. Caring for our oceans and waterways not only benefits us, but a myriad of other living creatures,” she explained.

The Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape was declared a protected area by virtue of the newly legislated Republic Act 11038 or the E-NIPAS act, together with 31 other Marine Protected Areas in the Philippines. This ensures that the over 7,000 hectares-area in Zambales will be protected to maintain its natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.

CMEMP aims to comprehensively manage, address and effectively reduce the drivers and threats of degradation of the coastal and marine ecosystem in order to achieve and promote sustainability of ecosystem services, food security and climate change resiliency for the benefit of the present and future generations.

According to recent study the Philippines’ coastal and marine resources have a value of over P24 billion but supports fisheries worth P125 billion annually. It has been estimated that the total potential and sustainable economic net benefits from coral reefs in the nation is worth P55 billion annually, the study added.

“CMEMP will effectively not just aim to protect the MOBPLS, nor will it be limited to Central Luzon’s 803 kilometers of coastline. Rather, it aims to create a network of the various protected areas of the Philippines, thereby strengthening our capability in caring for them.” Salazar said.

DENR reports state that the program is anchored in six approaches which include (1) Integrated Coastal Management, (2) Partnership Building, (3) Ecotourism/Sustainable Tourism, (4) Protection, Management and Law Enforcement, (5) Communication, Education Public Awareness and (6) Valuation of Ecosystem Services.