The Regional Development Council (RDC) has thrown its full support behind the incorporation of the Verde Island Passage (VIP) into the expanded national integrated protected areas system (ENIPAS).
The VIP, often referred to as the “center of the center” of marine shore-fish diversity, boasts vibrant coral reefs and holds significant importance for biodiversity conservation.
Recognized as a critical area for preservation, its inclusion in ENIPAS marks a significant stride toward securing the long-term health and sustainability of this invaluable ecosystem. Furthermore, this move is expected to bolster resources and support for the sustainable management of the VIP’s unique marine environment.
ENIPAS, as an initiative, is dedicated to fortifying the protection and conservation of the Philippines’ most ecologically crucial regions.
In May 2023, calls from civil society groups and fisherfolk representatives intensified, advocating for a ban on all tankers transporting toxic cargo through the Verde Island Passage (VIP). The goal is to shield critical biodiversity and the livelihoods of communities that depend on it from potential catastrophes similar to the ongoing oil spill caused by the sinking of the fuel tanker MT Princess Empress on February 28.
Brent Ivan Andres, Program Head of the Oceans, Climate, and Coastal Communities at the Center of Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), echoed this call on August 28.
He emphasized the urgency of the government prohibiting the movement of ships carrying toxic substances through the VIP, particularly in light of unpredictable weather conditions in a country vulnerable to climate change and frequent typhoons.
Andres warned that without such measures, the presence of massive gas projects and the increased travel of large LNG tankers in the area could set the stage for a disaster surpassing the magnitude of the MV Princess Empress incident.