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Government urged to address mangroves depletion

Fisheries experts and mangrove conservation advocates have urged the government to help stem the alarming depletion of mangroves in the country by implementing rules in the conversion of idle fishponds and other areas to mangrove forestland.

In a resolution issued after a pond-mangrove rehabilitation workshop held in Iloilo City last week, they called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to implement a DA-DENR joint memorandum governing the the reversion of abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized portions of fishpond lease agreements (FLAs) to mangrove forestlands.

An FLA is a privilege granted by the government to a person or group of persons to occupy and rent public lands for the raising of fish and other aquatic products.

The participants, including representatives from the academe, mangrove and fisheries associations, local government units and non-government organization said laws and guidelines on mangrove rehabilitation should be implemented to help address the mangrove depletion.

They pointed out that mangroves are among the most important and productive habitats in the coastal zone. The mangroves protect the coastline from typhoons and tsunamis, soil erosion and flooding; serve as shelter and feeding grounds to many commercially important marine and brackish water species, provide food and livelihood to coastal communities and contribute to sustainable aquaculture.

But they said that from an estimated 450,000 hectares in 1918, mangrove resources are down to around around 120,000 ha "due to unsustainable utilization and continued conversion to fishponds."

One of the major cause of the depletion is the failure to revert the idle fishponds into mangrove rehabilitation areas as provided by the laws and policies like the DA-DENR Joint Memorandum Order No. 3 Series of 1991.

The memorandum provides that "all abandoned/idle/unutilized fishponds covered by (FLAs) are to be canceled by the DA's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and recommend to DENR for reversion to timberland or rehabilitation."

Source: The News Today

the Fish Site Editor

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