BACOLOD CITY – The approval of House Bill (HB) 9662, or the proposed “Blue Economy Act,” is expected to sustain the country’s economic growth, Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, the principal author, said on Wednesday.
“It will transform the maritime economy to a sustainable blue economy,” he said in a statement. “This is a landmark legislation that is vital not only to sustaining economic growth but also to building our national identity.”
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed HB 9662 on the third and final reading.
Blue economy refers to the integrated, holistic, cross-sectoral and cross-stakeholder approach for the sustainable, resilient and inclusive use, governance, management and conservation of oceans, seas, marine and coastal resources and ecosystems for economic growth.
The bill, included in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council Common Legislative Agenda, promotes stewardship and sustainable development of marine wealth within the maritime domains of the Philippines, including its exclusive economic zone.
The maritime industries of the Philippines, being an archipelagic and maritime nation, contributed PHP857 billion to the economy, translating to 3.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2022.
“But unsustainable economic development is threatening to destroy our marine and coastal ecosystems. The blue economy bill will strike a balance between our economic, social and ecological imperatives,” Benitez said, adding it will “ensure that maritime industries do not damage marine and coastal environments”.
A priority legislation of the Marcos administration, the blue economy bill will institutionalize the crafting of a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of marine and coastal resources and strengthen inter-agency, cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder coordination.
It will also promote cross-sector engagement, putting value into the local and indigenous knowledge systems of small fisherfolk.
“At the core of our blue economy are small fisherfolk. We guarantee that subsistence fisheries, or fishing mainly for household fishing consumption, will not be displaced as we delineate our maritime zones for different uses,” Benitez said.
The Negrense lawmaker said the concept of the blue economy also enriches people’s understanding of national security and highlights civilian objectives.
“After all, national security is not only about border control but also about pollution control; not only about territorial integrity but also environmental integrity, not only about military security but also food security,” he added. (PNA)