Duterte declares Philippine Rise as marine resource reserve.

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DAVAO CITY (May 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte  Tuesday (May 15),  declared the Philippine Rise underseas feature as a marine resource reserve of the country.

On the same day, Duterte  led the send off of a team of Filipino scientists who will undertake the Coordinated National Marine Scientific Research Initiatives and Related Activities or CONMIRA in the waters above the Philippine Rise.

“I have complete faith in the capabilities of our world-class scientists and I recognize the need to provide them with the necessary means to fulfill [their] mandate,” Duterte said as he joked that he would give the scientists one boat each.

After the program, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go and presidential son Sebastian Duterte rode jet skis bearing the Philippine flag around Casiguran Bay to mark the country’s claim to the Philippine Rise

In 2017, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 25 renaming the erstwhile Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.

Based on the proclamation, around 50,000 hectares of the Philippine Rise shall become a Strict Protection Zone limited to scientific studies, while more than 300,000 hectares shall be designated as a Special Fisheries Management Area.

He wished the Filipino scientists all the luck on their mission,   the group will conduct mapping, surveys, biological investigations and assessment of the coral reef and fisheries stock in the area until November.

The send off activity was held onboard the Navy’s largest ship, the BRP Davao del Sur.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gets a good view of the Casiguran Sound while Sec. Bong Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President and the President’s son Sebastian make their preparations before riding their jetskis for a tour around the Casiguran Sound during the Philippine Rise commemoration on May 15, 2018. -Robinson Niñal/Presidential Photo

These activities, according to the President, will be vital in the protection and management of the Philippine Rise and its vast resources.

Describing the country’s scientists as “world-class”, he said he recognized the need to provide them with the necessary means to fulfill their mandate.

“Let us therefore explore this [new frontier] fully aware of our responsibility to [properly manage] and conserve its natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

“As send off our experts to explore and discover what our seas have to offer, may we all have a renewed sense of commitment to promote the welfare of our people, safeguard our national interest, [and] assert our sovereign rights over our waters and all other areas within our jurisdiction,” he added.

The all-Filipino contingent will be conducting a Maritime Science Research (MSR) at Philippine Rise. On Wednesday, the Area Task Force North (ATF-North) will initiate casting of the first buoy in the Philippine Rise including the laying of a flag marker at the shallowest point of Benham Bank.

The Philippine Rise is a natural submarine prolongation of the Luzon island extending up to 318 nautical miles from the Eastern Philippine Seaboard facing the Pacific Ocean.

The region is comprised of the 200-nautical miles continental shelf from the baselines of Luzon and the extension of the seabed and subsoil approximately up to 118 nautical miles beyond the legal continental shelf limits. –ezc with report from PND

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