Envi group calls for an immediate declaration of Panaon Island as a protected seascape to contribute to PH’s 30x30 goal  - Oceana Philippines
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Envi group calls for an immediate declaration of Panaon Island as a protected seascape to contribute to PH’s 30×30 goal 


Press Release Date: May 18, 2023

The Philippines is tagged as one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world and if sustainably protected will help defend the planet against the impacts of the climate crisis.

Oceana, an international advocacy organization, urges Congress to pass the bill declaring Panaon Island as a protected seascape under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act or RA 11038. This came after the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) recently endorsed its official designation to the House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.

This island in the southern tip of Southern Leyte has coral reefs with up to 60% of very good coral cover, way above the national average of only 20%.

The proposed seascape, if enacted, will be called Panaon Island Protected Seascape (PIPS), has an area of about 61,204 hectares or 612.04 sq km covering the municipalities of Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, and San Ricardo.

On May 15, the HoR’s Committee on Natural Resources provisionally approved the consolidated bill for the proposed Panaon Island seascape pending the submission of a minor revision to the technical description from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA). The Mapping Authority committed to submitting this by next week.

“We call for the urgency of the measure as we race against time in achieving the targets and more importantly, in preserving the integrity of the natural life support system that our coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and wetlands provide.  The destruction of these invaluable havens for the people and wildlife persists and will get worse if we will continue to lay back and take our own sweet time taking action,” said Atty. Liza Osorio, Oceana Acting Vice President.

As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), we committed to support the initiatives to ensure that at least 30 per cent of the global ocean, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed by 2030.1

Relatedly, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and Sustainable Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources, the Philippines set the goal of conserving at least 10% of our coastal and marine waters in 2020. However, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that as of 27 December 2022, approximately 3.14 million hectares of marine areas are designated as marine protected areas, a mere 1.42% of the country’s total marine areas. 2

“Meeting the target will help in curbing marine biodiversity loss while providing economic benefits, food and water security, climate change adaptation and mitigation for coastal communities that depend on these ecosystems. We call for the immediate passage of the bill declaring Panaon Island as a protected seascape because it will move us closer to achieving the set target,” added Osorio.

Oceana surveyed 188 fishing households in Panaon Island and found that over one-third of respondents depend on the entirety of their catch to feed their families. In addition, 79% of these households believe that marine sanctuaries have a positive impact on their means of living.

“Prioritizing protection and sustainable management of our marine resources in accordance with the national goals and international commitments will lead to the conservation of critical ecosystems that provide invaluable services to us. The protection of endangered species like sharks, turtles, and mangroves will ensure ecosystem balance, that will provide food, livelihood, and improvement of lives for so many Filipino people, who are reliant in our rapidly depleting seas,” said Marianne Saniano, Oceana’s science and campaign manager for the protection of Panaon Island.


Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk, and other stakeholders to restore the abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources. (END)

For More Information:

Joyce Sierra, Communications Manager, Oceana 

Mobile: 09178214430E-mail: jsierra@oceana.org 

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