The Journey Towards the Protection of Philippine Rise
The exhibition “The Journey Towards the Protection of Philippine Rise” was opened on February 19, 2019 in time for the centenary celebration of Marinduque as an independent province. It features underwater photos, maps and a video of the Benham Bank taken by a team of marine scientists, researchers, technical divers and videographers from Oceana, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, (UP-MSI) UP Los Baños School of Environmental Science and Management, UPLB Institute of Biological Sciences, Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard in an exploration on May 2016.
The Philippine Rise is approximately 24 million-hectare undersea region on the east of Luzon. It includes a 13.4 million-hectare outer section that was validated by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf as part of the Philippine territory in 2012. It is about 3,000 to 3,500 meters deep covering the vast coasts off as far as Cagayan to Catanduanes provinces.
Larger than Luzon, Philippine Rise is a home to rare corals (some have a lifespan of 900 years) and hundreds of species of marine creatures. Its diverse ecosystem attracts and serves as a spawning ground and nursery of migratory fishes like the highly-valuable Pacific bluefin tuna, which are known to swim to the US and Mexico.
Formerly known as the Benham Rise, the Philippine Rise was discovered in 1933 by American Surveyor Andrew Ellicott Kennedy Benham. In May 2017, Benham Rise was renamed Philippine Rise in exercise of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
In May 2018, the 352,390 hectares, a portion of the Philippine Rise was proclaimed as Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve and 49,684 hectares was declared as a Strict Protection Zone within the reserve or area for actual ground survey and delineation for only Filipino scientists and the remaining areas within the PRMRR are collectively designated as Special Fisheries Management Area.
At the center of this protected zone is the Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the seamount with a depth of 40-70 meters and measures 17,000 hectares.
The exhibition was donated to the Filipino people by Oceana Philippines in February 2019 and was first displayed at the National Museum of Natural History in 2019 which aims to raise awareness and to inspire Filipinos to conserve and protect our seas.