House panel okays bill on marine resources preservation

MANILA As the government gears up for the temporary closure of Boracay to rehabilitate the popular tourist destination, the House of Representatives' appropriations committee has approved a measure seeking the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) in all coastal municipalities and cities in the country.

According to a statement issued Friday, the House panel approved an unnumbered substitute bill that consolidated House Bill Nos. 48 and 2126, both known as the Marine and Coastal Resources Protection Act.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, House Appropriations Committee chairperson, said the MPA is a generic term that includes all declared areas governed by specific rules or guidelines to conserve, protect and manage activities within the enclosed environment.

"With all the environmental challenges that Boracay is facing, I can't help but highlight the importance of this measure. As we've witnessed, environmental negligence is very costly and dangerous, and this proposed law discourages it," he said.

Under the bill, MPAs could take the form of a marine reserve, marine park, or marine sanctuary.

Nograles said the State has the responsibility to promote a culture of responsible stewardship of the environment.

"Thus, where human carelessness and disregard have resulted in destruction and damage, the State shall take the necessary measures to restore ecological balance and beauty," he added.

The bill mandates all coastal municipalities and cities to establish at least one MPA covering a total area of 10 hectares within municipal waters.

The MPA shall be established with an integrated community-based conservation program and coast resource management plan.

Among the responsible entities for the MPA are the concerned local government units (LGUs), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils.

Under the bill, funding for the establishment and subsequent management of the MPAs will be provided by the concerned LGUs.

Funds coming from the provincial government, grants, donations, and income generated from the operations of the MPA may be used for the same purpose. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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