Washington DC-based Global Environment Facility (GEF) pledged to fund a Philippine government-led project to conserve Philippine Rise, a 25-million hectare shallow continental shelf east of the main island of Luzon.
A statement showed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Conservation International are now preparing the design of a project to conserve and protect the Benham Bank and sustain its near pristine condition.
The proposed five-year project, titled Philippine Rise Integrated Conservation for Enduring Legacies through Ecosystem Support Services (PRICELESS), will receive a budget of US$4 million or P193 million from GEF.
It will be executed by the DENR in partnership with non-government organizations, Conservation International and Rare Philippines.
To be specific, PRICELESS aims to address the need to ramp up and build capacity to protect and manage the waters, reefs, and natural resources in the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve (PRMRR).
The PRMRR is composed of the Benham Bank and its surrounding waters, being the first National Integrated Protected Areas System Marine Protected Area (NIPAS MPA) in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Given the vast, offshore areas in the Philippine Rise, the project also aims to strengthen coordination and partnership between the DENR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, among many others.