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Law protecting Tubbataha Reef gets global recognition

THE law which established the Tubbataha Reef National Park (TRNP) as a protected area was recently adjudged as one of the world’s best environmental policies.

Republic Act 10067, or the TRNP Act, won silver at the 2012 Future Policy Awards of the World Future Council, a Germany-based charitable foundation consisting of 50 respected personalities from across the globe, according to Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The TRNP Act is a comprehensive law which established the 97,000-hectare marine reserve, lying southeast off the coast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.

It also established the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan as an overall guide in managing the Tubbataha Reef. The plan will be prepared by the Tubbataha Management Office, in coordination with the local community and stakeholders, along with the DENR, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Palawan provincial government, and the Cagayancillo municipal government.

The enactment of the law paved the way for the creation of the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) and its designation as the sole policy-making and permit-granting body of the TRNP. The TPAMB is comprised of representatives of national agencies, local governments, academe, the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and non-governmental organizations.

The TRNP Act was one of those chosen out of 31 ocean and coastal policies from 22 countries and regions, and nominated by international organizations and academic experts.

Paje said the country’s policies put a premium on sustainability for present and future generations like TRNP Act.

He said the law will serve as a model policy for other coastal and marine protected areas facing the impacts of climate change, especially with the Philippines serving as the apex of the Coral Triangle which makes it both a hotbed and hot spot of marine biodiversity.

The Philippines won the Silver Award, along with Namibia with its Marine Resources Act of 2000.

The Gold Award went to Palau, for its Shark Haven Act of 2009 and its Protected Areas Network Act of 2003, while South Africa and the state of California, USA, received the Honorable Mention for their Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2008 and Ocean Protection Act of 2004, respectively.

The provisions of the act supporting local government action, “giving permanence and power to local level institutions to confront regional threats such as illegal fishing, poaching and destructive fishing practices undertaken by foreign vessels” was noted by the award-giving body.

It also acknowledged how the TRNP “set an example of successful coral reef conservation and a model for action on other coral reefs,” by serving as nursery ground for juvenile fish and supporting local fisheries.

(Jonathan L. Mayuga)

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