Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Secretary Manny Piñol reported, during the 15th Cabinet Meeting May 8, to President Rodrigo Duterte what they discovered during the recent expedition to Philippine Rise also known as Benham Rise. The secretary also made recommendations to the President on how to preserved the said territory.
President Duterte last night ordered the renaming of the Benham Rise to Philippine Rise, Secretary Piñol said.
Prior to the said meeting that started 2:30 pm and ended 10:30 pm on Monday, Piñol said he would like to inform President Duterte of the vast potentials of the Philippine Benham Rise as a source of food for future generations of Filipinos.
“The bounty of the 25-million hectare waters in the Philippine Continental Shelf east of Luzon is mind-boggling,” he said. “I will recommend that government allocate more funds for the deployment of more “Payaos” in the area to further enhance the catch of Filipino fishermen.”
Payao or Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) is consisting of a floater and palm fronds.
He added that there is a need for the Philippine Government to intensify its monitoring of the entry of foreign vessels, especially poachers, in the area to protect Filipino fishermen.
The agriculture and fisheries secretary also noted that Philippine Rise is proven to be one of the spawning areas of the immensely in demand and expensive Blue Fin Tuna which could fetch as much as P500,000 each.
“There is a need to declare a Closed Fishing Season in the area during the months when the Blue Fin Tuna and the other big fish species are spawning to attain sustainability,” he said.
“I will recommend to President Duterte that the Philippine Benham Rise should be declared as a Protected Food Supply Exclusive Zone,” he added. “As such, the Philippine Benham Rise should be protected from destructive mining and oil exploration.”
He said he believes that minerals and oil supply is finite while the capacity of the fish species in the area to multiply is limitless.
He also proposed the construction of facility, a symbol of our ownership, that will serve as a research base of Filipino scientists and aqua-marine researchers and a monitoring station for illegal fishermen and poachers.
“It could also serve as a facility of refuge for Filipino fishermen in the area and docking station of government vessels which will patrol the vast seas,” he added.