The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has urged the public to help in preserving beach forests and mangrove plantations in different coastal areas in Central Visayas.
Dr. Alicia Lustica, center head of Biodiversity, Coastal Wetlands, and Ecosystem Research Center at the DENR 7, said mangroves minimize pollution in coastal areas and help protect houses near shores from strong waves or storm surge.
Lustica disclosed that about 5,000 hectares are considered as mangrove plantations and beach forests in the entire country. The mangrove plantation project started in 2015 with a budget of P1 billion.
She reminded that destruction of mangrove plantations and beach forests carries penalties ranging from monetary fines to actual imprisonment.
With mangrove plantations considered as tourist destinations in some areas, Lustica urges the public to be responsible tourists and help in preserving the life of mangroves.
Earlier, the DENR 7 had asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the appointment of special prosecutors in the region to specifically handle environmental cases.
Steve Vincent Larona, legal assistant of the DENR 7, said the request was already sent to the DOJ and they are waiting for its approval.
Larona cited the importance of having special prosecutors to handle the environmental cases that they are filing against illegal commercial fishers.
He noted the presence of specially appointed prosecutors who would help the agency push for the prosecution of these violators.
In 2016, Larona reported they have filed five cases against commercial fishing vessels that were conducting illegal fishing within the Tañon Strait. [CebuNews.PH]