Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said enhancing maritime cooperation and security can help boost the economy of the entire ASEAN community, and promote protection of marine environment.

“It is in the foremost interests of ASEAN to develop common approaches to address shared challenges and opportunities in the various maritime-related fields,” Binay said in a speech at the 3rd ASEAN Maritime Forum in Manila.

“Increasing maritime cooperation creates a dynamic of greater mutual trust and generates much needed confidence-building measures that can overcome whatever challenges that future may pose,” he added.

Binay noted that aside from promoting greater peace, security and stability in the region, maritime cooperation stimulates business, trade and investments, as well as increases people-to-people linkages and exchanges.

According to Binay, intra-ASEAN trade has already reached 25 percent of total ASEAN trade in 2011 and it will only increase in the future.

“As ASEAN remains an open and outward-looking regional community, external trade with regional and international partners continues to drive economic growth. This intra- and inter-regional ASEAN trade depends heavily on shipping, especially of energy resources for the non-oil producing states in ASEAN,” Binay said.

“It is therefore of vital importance to secure sea lanes of communication and continue combating piracy to ensure freedom and safety of navigation in the seas of Southeast Asia,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Vice President underscored the need for maritime cooperation to protect marine environment and address the issue of climate change.

“The protection of the marine environment is likewise a shared concern which ASEAN, as a community of socially and environmentally conscious societies, should do more to address, given the very real concerns of climate change, disaster risk management and sustainable development,” he said.

Binay noted the strategic partnership between the ASEAN and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, as well as the alliance of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia.

“In all these endeavors, ASEAN’s achievement of its goals can only be hastened by engaging with relevant stakeholders, such as the maritime training institutes, ship owners, the academe, and civil society,” Binay said.

The Vice President also emphasized the need to develop a comprehensive regional framework and cooperative platform on maritime issues within the ASEAN. He said the framework would help integrate different initiatives into a holistic ASEAN maritime agenda.

“Without duplicating the work of relevant ASEAN bodies, the ASEAN Maritime Forum should be institutionalized as the comprehensive and cooperative platform for strategic engagement,” he said.

“In seeing our tides come in, we must consider that our seas and waterways do not separate us from one another, but rather, connect us,” he concluded.