Press Release
June 15, 2011

Legarda Urges LGUs to Exert Vigilance over Marine Resources
within Their Jurisdiction

Senator Loren Legarda today called on local government units (LGUs) all over the nation to be at the forefront in the crusade for the protection of the country's marine resources.

Legarda made the call as she expressed alarm over several occurrences of marine life exploitation such as the destruction of approximately 7,000 hectares of sea bed within the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea, and the brutal killing of a "butanding" or whale shark in Antique.

The Senator urged LGUs to beef up its efforts in protecting the country's coastal resources noting that Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code clearly defines municipal waters as those within 15 kilometers from the shore at low tide, the management of which has been delegated to the LGUs.

"We have to bear in mind that this 15-kilometer stretch often holds the most precious marine ecosystems that sustain our oceans, rivers and seas. This is where we find our mangroves, our fingerlings, and our corals. This area reaches our whale sharks which graze to feed on plankton, our dolphins that play and feed in the middle of straits and where our turtles feed on the seagrass," she explained.

Legarda has proposed several measures that would institute programs for the protection of the country's marine resources.

The proposed Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act under Senate Bill 1370 seeks to create a national ICM program--a comprehensive framework that will promote the sustainable development of the coastal and marine environment and resources. This will provide the direction, support and guidance to the LGUs in the development of their respective programs.

She also filed Senate Bill 1337, which would create the Philippines Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Agency (PAFEA) that will unify all agriculture and fisheries extension system and ensure maintenance of the high standards of extension programs. It shall orchestrate, provide national direction, set standards of performance, and provide institutionalized financial and technical support to the LGUs.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2616 bans the catching, sale, purchase, possession, transportation, importation, and exportation of all sharks and rays in the country.

"The degradation of our coastal areas has long ceased to be merely an environmental issue as it pushed poverty deeper in the coastal communities through losses in livelihood, vulnerability to natural hazards, hunger and food insecurity."

"Through these proposed measures, we will have the necessary programs that will provide a comprehensive and integrated approach in the effective management of our marine resources. But even before these bills are enacted into laws, I urge our local leaders, who are more aware of the situation and specific needs of their respective localities, to strengthen their efforts in protecting our seas and marine life," Legarda concluded.

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