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    Posted January 23, 2014 by

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    ‘Let’s protect Verde Island Passage!’

    A Philippine lawmaker on Thursday called on his colleagues at the House of Representatives to support a bill declaring Verde Island Passage in Oriental Mindoro province as a Marine Protected Area and Eco-tourism Zone.
    Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro) filed House Bill 3086 mandating the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), the local government units and other concerned government agencies to prepare a marine protected area and eco-tourism master plan.
    "As a Marine Protected Area and Eco-tourism Zone, the Verde Island Passage shall be subject to the rules and regulations governing the development of an eco-tourism zone," Umali said.
    He said the bill is in consonance with the policy of the State to protect its natural resources in relation to the promotion of a sustainable tourism industry.
    Umali stressed that the country should formulate effective strategies to conserve its resources and enable the industry to become a major source of livelihood and employment as well as rationalize all efforts pertaining to environmental protection.
    "Aggressive measures seeking to restore the country's share in the global tourist market shall be consistent with the preservation of the natural environment and the ecosystem," Umali said.
    He said the province of Oriental Mindoro is bestowed with various natural aquatic treasures, one of which is the Verde Island Passage.
    America's Smithsonian Institute has described the Verde Island Passage as the center of the world's marine biodiversity.
    "The passage is host to spectacular reef formations of more than 300 species of coral and underwater rock canyons that is home to more than half of the worlds' known shore fish species," Umali stressed.
    The Verde Island Passage is about 100 kilometers in length and about 20 kilometers across at its narrowest point.
    The bill mandates the DENR to issue the necessary rules and regulations, review and strengthen existing local structural frameworks to enhance cooperation and support, which shall ensure the preservation of the natural resources in the area.
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