DENR starts consultation on proposed coastal management program

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City held a multi-sectoral consultation on the country’s integrated coastal management program to ensure that all fronts and concerns in coastal development and management are covered.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje underscored the importance of engaging all stakeholders in the consultation efforts adding that “As we have always underscored in the past, environmental protection and sustainable development of our natural resources is not an exclusive domain of the DENR, or of local governments, but a shared responsibility of all sectors of our society.”

Around 70 representatives from various government agencies, non-government organizations and local government units in the Luzon region participated in the meeting, which results will serve as inputs for the refinement of the program.

Among the organizations represented in the consultation were government offices, local government units, non-government organizations and the private sector, such as the Haribon Foundation, World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, UP Marine Science Institute, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, League of Provinces, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Soil Management, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, to name a few.

“All the components of the draft ICM program were laid down to the stakeholders for their scrutiny, from the preamble to management strategies to priority actions, as well as implementing mechanisms,” DENR’s Coastal and Marine Management Office (CMMO) Executive Director Carlo C. Custudio said.

Custodio said that as early as 2006, the government has already adopted integrated coastal management (ICM) as the development strategy for the country’s coastal and marine environment as per Executive Order (E.O.) 533 signed by former President Arroyo.  But it is only now that the national program is being crafted to address the complex environmental as well as socioeconomic issues facing the sector with the end in view of promoting the optimum utilization and sustainable development of the coastal and marine environment.

Data gathered by the CMMO on the country’s coastal and marine resources showed that the Philippines has a total of 36,289 kilometers of coastline, one of the longest in the world. The data further showed that 832 out of the 1,541 cities and municipalities comprising the country  are situated in the coastal zone, where 62 percent of the total population live.

The country’s coastal resources include, among others, 468 species of scleractinian corals and 50 plus  species of soft corals covering about 25,000 square kilometers, seagrasses covering about 27,282 square meters, some 1,755 reef-associated fish species, 5 species of marine turtles, seaweeds, mollusks, mangroves , and other marine mammals.

Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director Mundita Lim said that the country’s coastal resources are, however, being threatened due to several factors, such as increasing population and poverty,  other man-made activities like over-fishing, dynamite fishing, pollution, and coral bleaching due to climate change.

“Our marine resources are now in a ‘sorry’ condition. We have only about 25 percent of the mangroves left and only about 5 percent of the coral reefs are in excellent condition. Add to this the 62-percent of the country’s total population living in the coastal area,” Lim said. D’Jay Lazaro

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