Scientists call for creation of Department of Marine Resources
The Philippines needs a government department "to manage and develop the country’s marine resources," the National Academy of Science and Technology saod in a Tuesday forum at the Manila Hotel.
Composed of scientists and researchers, NAST is under the Department of Science and Technology and is the highest recognition and scientific advisory body of the Philippines.
NAST, along with academe, organization, and expert stakeholders were at the National Marine Summit 2019 in Manila to “to help the government deal with the current marine issues in the country.”
“We don’t have an agency, a department focused on the oceans. So the coasts and the oceans are only a part of DOST, only a part of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), [and] only a part of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,” NAST president Rhodora Azanzan said in a release.
“Different agencies are in charge of different functions. So in the future, we hope that in the management of our marine environment, there should be a holistic approach. Meaning, consider the science behind the natural systems,” Azanzan said.
Movement for Maritime Philippines chairperson Merle Jimenez-San Pedro said the proposal would be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte's office.
Resources ‘largely being neglected’
National Coast Watch Council executive director Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano said the country has not been able to maximize its marine resources.
“Indeed, the Philippines is blessed with beautiful islands. However, ironically, the development of the sustainable use and management of the country’s marine assets are largely being neglected,” Alano said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that the share of ocean-based industries in the country’s gross domestic product at current prices decreased from 2012 to 2018. The 4.3% share in 2012 gradually decreased to 3.6% last year.
Ocean-based industries listed by PSA include ocean fishing, off-shore and coastal mining and quarrying, manufacture of ocean-based products, coastal construction, ocean-based power generation, sea-based transportation and storage, marine insurance, marine renting and business activities, maritime safety, surveillance and resource management, maritime education, coastal hotels, and recreation.
Ocean fishing accounts for 29.1% of ocean-based industries, making up the largest share of value to the "Ocean Economy," according to PSA.