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Negotiations On Coral Triangle Tuna Spawning Ground Progressing

The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), is deliberating a draft framework for joint fisheries development in support of policies that call for the sustainable management of tuna spawning grounds in the Coral Triangle.

This follows rising concerns over global issues such as climate change and its impact on biodiversity and marine resources.

A statement issued by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), here today said that with the help of the German Technical Cooperation, an initial draft memorandum of agreement (MOA) prepared by the Philippines EAGA Working Group on Fisheries, is now being reviewed and finalized by the member countries.

The proposed framework, in the form of the MOA, will establish the concept of a fisheries consortium among fishing industry stakeholders in the BIMP-EAGA.

The proposed consortium is seen as a forum that facilitates discussion of issues on fisheries development as well as opportunities such as access to technology, market, funding, capacity building of fishermen as well as public-private partnership.

Specifically, the MOA proposes that each county shall designate specific areas within their respective territorial waters where consortium members can be allowed to operate.

The MOA is expected to yield joint economic activities among BIMP-EAGA fishing industries within the common fishing areas in the sub-region.

“More than ever now, it is time to get our act together for the conservation and sustainable management of our marine biodiversity. This is because future generations will largely benefit from this abundance,” said Virgilio Leyretana, chairman of MEDCo.

Leyretana said that the Greater Sulu-Sulawesi corridor has been identified as one of the development priorities in the BIMP-EAGA, with rich fishing grounds and spawning areas for tuna to be found there.

The revitalization of the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional cooperation has been a key strategy to fast track socio-economic development in Mindanao and Palawan, as the Philippines' focus areas.

MEDCo plays an integral role as the Philippine Coordinating Office (PCO).

Leyretana also said that the thrust on fisheries development supports the ongoing Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) which stresses the importance of marine and coastal resources as well as the people of the Coral Triangle.

The Coral Triangle is the world's largest biodiversity site spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines,Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

A Philippines National CTI Coordinating Committee has been tasked to implement programs and projects, building on the regional cooperative programs that highlight sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

This spawning area of tuna covers almost 1.6 billion acres and holds the richest population of corals, fish, crustaceans, marine plants, sea turtles and other marine species.