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News 25 Jan 07
ADB in $42.8 million marine rescue package for Philippines
MANILA (AFP) - The Asian Development Bank is to put together a 42.8 million dollar rescue package to help the Philippines save its fragile and fast disappearing marine ecosystem, the Manilia-based lender has said.
The package will improve coastal resource management and boost the livelihoods of fishing communities, covering coastal communities in the provinces of Cagayan, Cebu, Davao Oriental, Masbate, Siquijor, and Zambales where almost eight out of 10 people live below the poverty line, the ADB said.
It said the coastal and marine resources of the Philippines are of national and global importance because of their rich biodiversity and contribution to the economy.
The Philippines is the 11th largest fish producer in the world and its fishing industry employs more than one million people, or five percent of the national labor force. However, only less than five percent of the Philippines' coral reefs are still in excellent condition while mangrove forests, a key coastal buffer and spawning groud, are declining fast.
Catches of reef fish are down by about 90 percent in recent years as a result, the ADB said.
The bank said overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and land conversion around the coastal areas are threatening to inflict "permanent damage on the ecosystem.
"Lack of an integrated approach to coastal zone planning, policy and institutional weaknesses, weak law enforcement, high poverty incidence and unabated access to marine and coastal resources are aggravating the situation."
"The project will directly address threats to major coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, sea grass, mangroves, and beaches, to improve fishing catches in the coastal waters and address environmental degradation," M.Jamilur Rahman, an ADB specialist said.
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