Press Release
May 8, 2015

May as Month of the Ocean
Villar says new Fisheries Code a feat for marine life protection

Sen. Cynthia Villar said this year's celebration of the Month of the Ocean is more significant with the enactment of a stronger law against illegal fishing.

"The Philippines was able to contribute a lot to the cause of protecting our marine resources when it amended the Fisheries Code," Villar said.

Villar was referring to Republic Act 10654 or the act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, amending RA 8550 otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Villar was principal sponsor of this measure crafted to balance the need to increase marine life production and the need to protect the sustainability and biodiversity of the oceans.

The enactment also caused the lifting of the yellow tag imposed by the European Union (EU), which if not immediately addressed, would cause a ban on the exportation of fish products to one of the country's largest markets. In 2013 alone, The Philippines exported P9.4 billion worth of fish products to EU countries.

The Month of May is celebrated as the Month of the Ocean by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999. This year's theme is "Stand up, Save our Reefs."

Activities are conducted to stress the importance of conservation, protection, and sustainable management of our coastal and marine resources.

"Protection of our oceans and the coast lines is crucial to an archipelago such as ours with about 80 percent of the country located in coastal areas. The fisheries sector also provides direct and indirect employment to over one million Filipinos," Villar said.

"This is also an opportune time to intensify the information campaign why reclamation should be vigorously opposed not only in the Manila Bay but also the other reclamation projects in the country. Reclamation causes massive and irreversible damage to the breeding ground of marine life and should not be allowed to proceed," she added.

Villar noted that the government's National Reclamation Plan will involve 102 projects or 38,000 hectares all over the country. One of the projects that will be implemented in Manila Bay will involve the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area, a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1412 and 1412-A and included in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance.

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