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Pres. Duterte Supports Move To Establish Research Facility

In Philippine Rise
By Manny Piñol

President Rody Duterte approved on Monday night the proposal of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to establish an offshore research facility in the 15,000-hectare Benham Bank, which is the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise, a 25-million-hectare continental shelf east of the island of Luzon.

The President, however, caused the DAF that necessary ecological impact assessment must be undertaken before the plan to construct the structure which will be called the Philippine Rise Conservation and Protect Research Center.

"Go ahead, start the move but be very conscious of the ecological impact of the project on the Rise," President Duterte instructed me after the presentation of the outcome of the Philippine Expedition to the Philippine Rise, formerly known as the Benham Rise, during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

On May 5, I personally led a 4-vessel flotilla to the Benham Bank which is about 200-nautical miles from the shores of Quezon Province and after a 22-hour voyage reached the shallowest portion of the vast continental shelf which is considered as a rich fishing grounds by Filipinos for centuries now.

Arriving in the area Saturday afternoon, the Philippine Expedition was met by two fishing boats manned by local fishermen who showed and shared their catch of Tuna and other big fish species.

Technical divers who travelled with the expedition conducted a two-hour underwater survey of the area while the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) deployed a "Payao" or Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) which is designed to attract small fish species which in turn also attack big fish species.

Fishermen in the area said foreign fishing vessels, including Taiwanese Long Liners, have been poaching in the waters well within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) because of the presence of Tuna, including the very expensive blue fin tuna.

The planned offshore research facility will be designed to house scientists and researchers who will look into ways to protect the rich fishing grounds from over-exploitation and destruction.

The Offshore Rig could also serve as an advance post to monitor the presence of poachers and illegal fishers.

In the plan which I presented to President Duterte during Monday's Cabinet meeting, the procurement of patrol helicopters with night-flying capability and long-distance flying drones was also included which he also approved.

The Offshore Rig will also be designed in such a way that Philippine Coast Guard Patrol Ships and BFAR vessels, including Filipino Fishing boats could dock in the area.

President Duterte instructed members of the Cabinet that while awaiting the implementation of the planned Offshore Research Facility, the Philippine Coast Guard should continuously sail in the area to prevent poachers and illegal fishers.

"Protect that area. That is ours," the President said.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #PhilippineRise!

(File photos of President Duterte and the Malampaya Oil Rig downloaded from public websites while photos of the expedition last weekend taken by DAF personnel.)

Pres. Duterte Supports Move To Establish Research Facility Pres. Duterte Supports Move To Establish Research Facility Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 10:52:00 PM Rating: 5

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