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A prime research center for the country’s coastal and marine resources will soon rise in idyllic Snake Island in Palawan.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2011-12 establishing Snake Island as site of the D ENR National Coastal and Marine Center for Research (NCMCR).

“The establishment of a research center is a step towards a more effective and efficient conservation of our country’s vast biodiversity. We need to implement clear interventions in protecting and rehabilitating our coastal and marine ecosystems as they provide food and livelihood to millions of Filipinos,” Paje said.

Paje also said the Snake Island makes for an ideal and strategic site for the country’s coastal and marine research program because it represents the megadiversity of the Philippines. “Being located in Palawan, which as we all know, is the country’s last ecological frontier, Snake Island is definitely a good choice to put up our research center,” Paje added.

Under the DAO, the NCMCR in Snake Island would serve as a field station for applied research for marine and coastal ecosystems, ecotourism and biodiversity. It would also house a laboratory for researchers to study interventions for coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves.

The NCMCR would further serve as a model for sustainable coastal and marine management and showcase the proper implementation of ecotourism principles.

Based on Paje’s directive, no application for foreshore lease agreements inconsistent with the objectives and functions of the NCMCR will be entertained by the DENR.

Commercial and industrial businesses other than those related to agriculture will not also be allowed on the island, according to Paje.

Executive Director Jacob Meimban of the DENR’s Coastal and Marine Management Office said his office would coordinate with other marine experts, institutions and agencies such as the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, and Silliman University in designing the NCMCR, particularly its laboratory facilities.

Snake Island is a 7.5-hectare snake-shaped island within Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City , Palawan . Its only structures are a DENR-manned monitoring station, as well as cottages run by the Honda Bay Boat Owners Association, which provide temporary shelter for tourists.