According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), it will require some time before the Verde Island Passage is safeguarded through laws.
“We have not yet reached this point, but we currently agree that the protection of the Verde Island Passage is necessary,” stated DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. during a forum hosted by the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development.
Mr. Amaro expressed hope that there are alternative methods available to enforce laws and allocate more resources to effectively conserve and protect the area.
He stated that any actions taken must guarantee the ongoing availability of ecosystem services, which are essential for the well-being of coastal communities and other individuals who rely on them for their livelihoods.
The strait known as the Verde Island Passage lies between Batangas and Mindoro Island and is recognized for its large number of marine life species including fish, coral, crustaceans, mollusks, seagrass, and mangroves. This makes it a significant location for biodiversity.
The passage is bordered by the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, and Romblon.
“We are highlighting the significance of the Verde Island Passage due to its connectivity aspect… anything that occurs in this passage has an impact on other areas beyond it,” he stated.
“According to him, safeguarding the (passage) also means protecting fisheries, coastlines, and the marine environment.”
The Secretary of the Environment, Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, announced that the DENR and the governors of five provinces have voiced their backing for a law that will safeguard the Verde Island Passage following an oil spill earlier this year.
In the final days of February, the MT Princess Empress sank near Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, while transporting 800,000 liters of oil.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that a minimum of 21 marine protected areas managed by local authorities were impacted by the oil spill.
The initial estimate for the environmental damage in the area was approximately 7 billion pesos, according to Adrian H. Halili.