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Philippines : To ensure human survival, let's protect marine mammals.

A party-list lawmaker is pushing for the creation of a government agency that would focus on the protection of marine mammals and ensure a healthy and balanced ecosystem in the country.

"There is a need to craft a law which would clearly state the Philippine government's policy in protecting marine mammals in the country as well as to strengthen its commitments to the global conservation efforts," Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares stressed.

Colmenares pointed out that marine mammals, as predators on top of the food chain, they play an important role in ensuring the health and balance of the ocean ecosystem, which is very vital to ensure human survival.

"Globally, marine mammals face threats from human activities including by-catch from large-scale fishing activities, collision with vessels, depletion of food stocks, hunting and illegal trade, oceanic pollution, habitat destruction and climate change," Colmenares said.

HB 4285 or the "Marine Mammal Protection Act" authored by Rep. Colmenares, seeks to create the Marine Mammal Protection and Conservation Committee (MMPCC).

The MMPCC shall be headed by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (BMB-DENR) and will be composed of one (1) representative each from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Scientific Authorities such as the Silliman University, UP Marine Science Institute, UP Visayas, and National Museum, reputable scientists and marine mammal experts, and representatives from concerned non-government environmental and animal welfare organization. Silliman University shall chair the MMPCC scientific authorities.

Among other mandates, the MMPCC shall; 1) Develop and coordinate research programs for marine mammals in the Philippines; 2) Develop manuals and protocols for the rescue of stranded animals; 3) Develop manuals and guidelines for dolphin and whale-watching tours; 4) Undertake technical assessments of rescued, stranded or rehabilitated marine mammals;

6) Help develop the capacity of government offices to address marine mammal issues in the Philippines through training; and 7) Help develop educational and training programs for local communities, concerned organizations and other stakeholders.

The author noted that the country is a signatory to the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention in the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), thus the government must protect marine mammals within, outside, and those transiting it territory.

According to the Red List Status of Marine Mammals in the Philippines, a report from the country's top marine mammal scientists, the status of the populations of most marine mammals in the country is 'data deficient.'

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:May 24, 2014
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