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Fishing Ban Proposed in Bountiful Manila Bay

PHILIPPINES - As the fishing ban in Manila Bay gets ready to start, local stakeholders are worried about their investments. However, the ban is essential for this natural harbor to replenish the fish stocks and culture capabilities it once boasted, say local project managers.

Stakeholders concerned, including River Basin Control Office (RBCO), the agency coordinating water-related initiatives nationwide, will discuss possible start of the fishing ban this year in the entire Manila Bay, a major Philippine economic resource and one of the world's best natural harbors.

RBCO Executive Director Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr. said such planned ban aims to increase quantity of the bay's fisheries resources by giving these time to recover from unabated fishing and environmental degradation.

"We must replenish the bay's fisheries resources and it takes time to do this," he said.


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"We must replenish the bay's fisheries resources and it takes time to do this"
RBCO Executive Director Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr.

If stakeholders approve the planned ban's implementation, Tuddao said this decision will be formalized in a resolution during the meeting.

Manila Bay has a surface area of about 1,800 square kilometers and a coastline of around 190 kilometers running along parts of National Capital Region, the country's leading urban center, as well as Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan and Cavite provinces.

The DENR said this bay has coral reefs and seagrass beds where fishes forage while mudflats suitable for shellfisheries are found along the coast of Bataan and Pampanga.

Citing a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources study, the DENR also said some 4,600 hectares in Manila Bay are wetlands that provide food and habitat for various species, act as reservoir for watersheds, help maintain and improve water quality in rivers and other water bodies as well as protect adjacent and downstream areas from potential flooding damage.

International organization Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) said a 2005 study shows economic value for use of Manila Bay's resources and for benefits from its mangroves, mudflats and coral reefs exceeds PhP8 billion annually.

The PEMSEA noted aquaculture/mariculture accounts for some 59 per cent of such estimated economic value.

The study also shows damages to the bay's eco-systems and corresponding socio-economic impacts amount to PhP4 billion per year.

PEMSEA attributed such damages mainly to man-made activities resulting in water quality deterioration, coastal erosion and siltation, fishery resource over-exploitation, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss.

DENR reported Manila Bay's mangrove areas - which serve as fish nurseries and waste filters aside from providing shoreline defense against floods and erosion - already shrank from about 54,000 hectares at turn of the 20th century to 2,000 hectares (1990) and 794 hectares (1995).

Damages to Manila Bay also result in harmful algal blooms which threaten people's health, salt water intrusion as well as water pollution leading to either people's death or sickness.

To help curb degradation in Manila Bay, Tuddao said there are plans to zone this water body so that only authorized uses can be undertaken.

the Fish Site Editor

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