Critical habitat for marine turtles created in Agusan-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
MANILA -- Nearly 6,000 hectares of coastline spanning five villages in Carmen, Agusan del Norte, has been declared as critical habitat for marine turtles by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who signed the DENR Administrative Order no. 2012-08, said the declaration would help guarantee the continued existence of the endangered species by encouraging local residents to protect the animal.
With a combined land area of 5,756 hectares or 57.56 square kilometers, the villages of Vinapor, Gosoon, San Agustin, Cahayagan and Tagcatong form the "Carmen Critical Habitat" for marine turtles.
The designated critical habitat, along with other coastal areas in the adjacent municipality of Magsaysay in Misamis Oriental, has been observed as nesting grounds of the hawksbill sea turtle.
Sea turtles, although migratory, are known to nest in beaches where they have been hatched despite after having traveled thousands of miles across the ocean.
Characterized by flipper-like arms used for swimming and a flattened body shape with a protective case, sea turtles mostly feed on seagrass, plankton and jellyfish. The hawksbill sea turtle can be identified for its curving beak.
Juveniles usually fall prey to predators such as seagulls and bigger fish, while adults are usually hunted by humans for their shells, which serve as ornaments or accessories, or for their meat. Some also drown when caught in nets or floating garbage.
Because of this, the AO directs the DENR-Caraga regional office has been tasked to establish statistical, topographic and geographic features of the area. The office should also ensure that developmental activities within and around the area would safeguard the ecological integrity of the critical habitat.
The regional office is also tasked to enforce all applicable environmental laws against illegal activities such as dumping of waste products, human settlement, mineral extraction or exploration, burning, logging and quarrying.
A Critical Habitat Management Plan shall be jointly prepared by the DENR-Caraga along with the local government of Carmen and other stakeholders, and shall serve as guide in the management of the critical habitat. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)