- Philippine Government
I Support the Protection of Philippine Rise
WHY PROTECT BENHAM RISE?
1. Benham Rise is Philippine territory. A large part of the region is within the country's 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf. In April 2012, the Extended Continental Shelf claim of the Philippines was approved by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). According to the 1987 Constitution, all areas for which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction are considered legally part of the National Territory. As Benham Rise fits this definition – the region is definitely considered as Philippine territory.
2. It nearly doubles the size of the Philippines. The area of Benham Rise within the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of the Philippines is 11.4 million hectares while the Extended Continental Shelf is 13 million hectares. The region spans over 24 million hectares, compared with the 30 million hectare total land area of the Philippines – meaning our territory grew significantly.
3. Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of Benham Rise, is a spawning area. Preliminary research conducted by scientists as early as 2013 revealed that Benham Bank is a spawning ground for assorted fish.
4. Benham Rise is possibly the only place in the Philippines where coral cover hovers around 100% and is a likely source of larval spawn for corals and reef fish.
What must be done:
1. As an immediate response, the Philippine government should issue an order declaring Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of Benham Rise, as a no-take zone, meaning no fishing, mining or drilling activities can take place on or around it, ensuring protection.
2. Oceana recommends the immediate creation of a Management Framework for Benham Rise as a precautionary approach for development to ensure that we conserve the resources of Benham Rise while asserting our sovereignty. Further research should be done to ensure the area is developed sustainably.
3. Oceana agrees with the government that “Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino people," as reiterated by Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella. Abella continued: "The Philippine government is duty-bound to defend and protect our sovereign and territorial rights over this region. Other countries can exercise innocent passage and territorial navigation. But they are disallowed to stay and establish any structure in the area."
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- Philippine Government
I Support the Protection of Benham Rise
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