By Erma Edera
A holistic approach should be considered for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay to sustain its marine resources.
Rhodora Azanza, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology, stressed this Tuesday during the first day of the first-ever National Marine Summit 2019 at the Manila Hotel.
“It seems that there should be more coordination and approach for the management in the Manila Bay. Because for a large marine ecosystem, there should be a well-managed ecosystem,” Azanza said.
She added that there is already a management in place in the Manila Bay but it should apply a holistic approach.
“They should consider the entire bay because the current system would affect the distribution of garbage. The science behind the system is more important to consider. In the near future, we would be more holistic in planning and management of our marine environment,” she emphasized.
Azanza also suggested the creation of a specific department to manage the country’s marine resources.
“There is no agency focusing in relation to the development of blue economy. We should get more benefits from what we have, to protect the economic bays, which is the marine environment. We need to have a responsible department,” she said.
“The Philippines has a lot of properties, natural resources in our territories valued very well in the past because we were concentrating on our man-based natural resources. We are rich in marine resource and we have to tap them for the good of the Filipinos,” she added.
“A strategic archipelagic framework and a pragmatic international cooperation are needed to enhance benefits within and beyond its areas of natural jurisdiction and the evaluation and management of opportunities and risks should be institutionalized,” Azansa said.
Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano, the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) executive director, bared that the development for sustainable use of the country’s marine assets is being neglected.
He said the national marine policy needs an amendment but it is a “forward looking and landmark document.”
“Indeed, the Philippines is blessed with beautiful islands. However, ironically, the development of these sustainable use and management of the country’s marine assets are largely being neglected,” Alano said.
On the other hand, Merlie Jimenez-San Pedro, chairperson of the Marine Summit Movement for Maritime Philippines, said her group is committed to supporting more inclusive and sustainable maritime communities in the country.
“We welcome the new inputs from experts and resource persons who can provide new perspectives and data we need to develop and manage areas in marine resources,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong said the Philippines should develop and embrace its “archipelagic nature” to utilize the marine resources.
“We are an archipelagic nation and this geographical fact brings us vast advantages that we have yet to fully exploit,” Ong said in his speech on behalf of NCWC chairman and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“The sooner all of us embrace our archipelagic nature, the faster we can use our seas to our own advantage,” he added.
The theme for the two-day national marine summit is “Harnessing Opportunities of a Blue Economy: Achieving a Sustainable Socio-Economic Growth and National Security.”
The summit is attended by stakeholders from the government, non-government organizations, environmentalists, scientists, and maritime industry organizations.