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Siena Luchansky: PHILIPPINE BENHAM RISE PROPOSED AS PROTECTED FOOD SUPPLY ZONE

The Rise is ours!
PHILIPPINE BENHAM RISE PROPOSED
AS PROTECTED FOOD SUPPLY ZONE
By Manny Piñol

Siena Luchansky

During the 17th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang today, I will make a report to President Rody Duterte and members of the Cabinet the outcome of the 3-day Philippine Expedition to the Philippine Benham Rise .

Right after landing on dry land yesterday, I immediately fired off a text message to Special Execuive Asst. to the President, Secretary Bong Go, requesting that my urgent report be accommodated during the Cabinet meeting even if it is not among the agenda to be discussed today.

Sec. Go responded right away informing Director Romirose Boloron Padin that my request was approved by the President.

There is urgency in what I intend to report to President Duterte that I could not wait for another Cabinet meeting next month to do it.

In fact, I had to ask the technical staff of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to work overnight to prepare the presentation for the Cabinet meeting this afternoon.

First, I would like to inform President Duterte of the vast potentials of the Philippine Benham Rise as a source of food for future generations of Filipinos.

The bounty of the 25-million hectare waters in the Philippine Continental Shelf east of Luzon is mind-boggling.

When we dropped the first "Payao" or Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) which consists of a floater and palm fronds, the leader of the fishermen's group, Romeo Sarco, said they could harvest as much as 20 tons of big fish after about a month.

The MV DA-BFAR will deploy 14 more "Payaos" in the area when they sail back to the Philippine Benham Rise today.

I will recommend that government allocate more funds for the deployment of more "Payaos" in the area to further enhance the catch of Filipino fishermen.

Second, the fishermen in the area reported the continuing presence of Taiwanese Long Line fishing boats which would sometimes chase the Filipino fishermen who get near their long lines deployed in the waters within Philippine territory.

There is a need for the Philippine Government to intensify its monitoring of the entry of foreign vessels, especially poachers, in the area to protect Filipino fishermen.

Third, the Philippine Benham Rise is proven to be one of the spawning areas of the immensely in demand and expensive Blue Fin Tuna which could fetch as much as P500,000 each.

There is a need to declare a Closed Fishing Season in the area during the months when the Blue Fin Tuna and the other big fish species are spawning to attain sustainability.

Fourth, just like any delicate Eco-System, there is a need to protect and conserve the Philippine Benham Rise as a food source for future generations of Filipinos.

I will recommend to President Duterte that the Philippine Benham Rise should be declared as a Protected Food Supply Exclusive Zone.

As such, the Philippine Benham Rise should be protected from destructive mining and oil exploration.

It is my belief that the country will benefit more if it will protect and conserve the Philippine Benham Rise because while minerals and oil supply is finite, the capacity of the fish species in the area to multiply is limitless.

Fifth, we should strongly manifest our ownership of the Philippine Benham Rise by establishing our presence in the area.

I will recommend that the Philippine Government consider the proposal of establishing a structure in the shallowest portion of the Benham Bank which is estimated to be 15,000 hectares.

The facility will serve as a research base of Filipino scientists and aqua-marine researchers and a monitoring station for illegal fishermen and poachers.

It could also serve as a facility of refuge for Filipino fishermen in the area and docking station of government vessels which will patrol the vast seas.

More than that, the Philippine Benham Rise Research Facility which will proudly fly our country's Standards will be a symbol of our ownership of the resource-rich area which government will protect and safeguard for the Filipinos of the future.

The Philippine Benham Rise is ours!

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!
#BenhamRiseIsOurs! #ProtectConserveTheRise!

(Attached is a news item by CNN Philippines about the expedition to the Philippine Benham Rise. Other photos show the catch of Filipino fishermen in The Rise.)

Siena Luchansky: PHILIPPINE BENHAM RISE PROPOSED AS PROTECTED FOOD SUPPLY ZONE Siena Luchansky: PHILIPPINE BENHAM RISE PROPOSED AS PROTECTED FOOD SUPPLY ZONE Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 2:21:00 AM Rating: 5

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