The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has concluded the Marine Environment Protection Forum on 09 September 2021, hosted and facilitated by the agency through a video-conferencing platform. The Marine Environment Protection Forum is part of the celebration of the 2021 National Maritime Week and of the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA MO).
With the theme, “Green Maritime Philippines: Protect and Conserve,” the purpose of the Forum was to identify the common environmental challenges facing the domestic shipping sector. From this initiative, the pool of experts and specialists from the concerned government agencies and the private sector would establish a unified goal and set of measures to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 13 – Climate Action and SDG 14 – Life Below Water.
Comprehensive Government Actions Presented
Prior to the holding of the Marine Environment Protection Forum, the MARINA conducted the Marine Environment Protection Pre-Forum on 27 August 2021—converging shipping companies, shipbuilding and ship repair entities, maritime training institutions, non-government organizations, and various government partners.
Ms. Precila C. Jara, OIC-Director of the MARINA – Overseas Shipping Service (OSS), presented the MARINA’s active involvement in international projects and in engagements relating to the implementation of maritime instruments in the Philippine setting. OIC-Director Jara highlighted the role of the MARINA in the GloFouling Partnerships Project as the National Lead Agency.
The overall objective of the GloFouling Partnerships Project is to capacitate developing countries in the implementation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines for biofouling management. Initiatives from this project are aimed at significantly reducing the introduction of biofouling-mediated invasive aquatic species (IAS). Since the accumulation of organisms on ship hulls increases fuel consumption due to increased surface roughness and frictional resistance, a by-product of the initiatives under the GloFouling Partnerships Project is the reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships.
Likewise, Capt Xerxes Proceso N Fernandez of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); Atty. Hiyasmin H. Delos Santos of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA); Engr. Niñaliza H. Escorial of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD); Sandee G. Recabar of the Climate Change Commission (CCC); Nadine Bresemann of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA); Armida Andres of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB); and Marine Environment Protection of the South-East Asian Seas (MEPSEAS) national consultant Diana Factuar shared their organizations’ actions and their insights on acting upon the issues of climate change, coastal pollution, destruction of marine habitats, marine debris and pollutants, and maritime transport emissions.
Meanwhile, two more distinguished guests graced the Forum proper, namely former OIC-Administrator of the MARINA and now the Assistant Secretary for Maritime of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) VADM Narciso A Vingson Jr, and DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.
MARINA consistently adheres to maritime instruments
In his welcome remarks during the Forum, MARINA Administrator VADM Robert A Empedrad proudly shared with the participants the MARINA’s crafting of rules and regulations in accordance with environment-oriented laws and standards for the maritime industry.
Memorandum Circulars (MCs) highlighted by VADM Empedrad were MC No. SR-2020-01 on Ship Recycling, MC No. SR-2020-04 on Anti-Fouling Systems, MC No. SR-2020-05 on Ballast Water Management, and MC No. SR-2020-06 on MARPOL Annex VI, the use of compliant fuel oil for ships. These recently published policies are already in effect, and are in accordance with relevant IMO conventions.
MARINA Bares Inter-Agency Strategy
As it concluded the Forum, the MARINA bared the ‘The Ten-Point Strategic Action Plan for Green Maritime Philippines: Protect and Conserve.’ The inter-agency strategy, which was finalized during the Pre-forum, sets a whole-of-sector and whole-of-country approach to achieve its vision of ‘a sustainable marine ecosystem, resilient and environmentally sustainable waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago by providing long term viable and feasible solutions by 2050.’
To ensure that each measure outlined in the Action Plan is being fulfilled, an inter-agency committee will be constituted to review it and incorporate new actions as necessary. Lead agencies identified include the MARINA, DOTr, DENR, CCC, DOST, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
SOTr ensures support for marine environment protection efforts
DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, in a pre-recorded message, assured the government and private sector representatives that the attached agencies under his wing are prioritizing environmental issues in their projects and programs.
“We are united to protect the green maritime sector as well as to enforce a marine environment strategy while guaranteeing an effective commercial and social connection throughout the archipelago,” Secretary Tugade said.
He also called on the industry stakeholders to strengthen their participation and cooperation to achieve a ‘healthy marine environment’ for the nation.