Developing a Marine Protected Area

The area was already established in 2005, with three areas specified which included a Marine Protected Area and containing two Fish Sanctuaries.

Although the final conditions of the Marine reserve: An MPA where strict sanctuary conditions are not mandated for the entire area yet, there is still a desire to control access and activities, such as boating, mooring and various fishing techniques. The Marine Reserve allows for 2 separate zones that include sanctuary areas

Within the boundary of the MPA and the two Sanctuaries comprises a buffer zone (multiple use or traditional use zone) this provides a transition space between the inner core sanctuary and the outer non-sanctuary or less managed areas. This includes neighboring habitats (seagrass beds, mangrove swamps, beaches and estuaries) which functions are crucial for the continued health of the core ecosystems. Less strict regulations are applied to the buffer zone. A combination of different uses may be included in the buffer zone but they should be kept as simple as possible. Different uses may include the following: visitor use areas for appropriate recreation and general education activities; traditional use grounds where exploitation using ecologically sound methods (gleaning or hand line) is allowed and monitored; research and education zone where ecologically sound and non disturbing research and education activities are permitted; and sustained yield/fishery management zone where sites of breeding and spawning activities or concentrations of fish stocks or target species are closely regulated for use and access.

The rules have not been established yet; it still requires the creation of the MRA/FS Management Council. The council should comprise of fisher folks and concerned citizens of the barangays.

The guides or manuals to help with this task and have evolved over the years and have been rewritten many times by eminent Marine Biologists and Scientists from both overseas and the Philippines. The latest versions being:

Designing and Planning a Network of Community Based Marine Protected Areas

This is an educational manual based on research findings from the culmination of two years of research by a Filipino and international group of interdisciplinary researchers and graduate students in Bohol and Southeast Cebu. It is provided by the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation.

It is important before looking at the MPA, it’s probably a good idea to examine how we got here. With hindsight it’s hard to imagine that with the benefit of education the willful destruction of reefs whether by dynamite, cyanide poisoning or destructive fishing techniques would not have happened. I am from a former fishing port in England that used to rely on the North Sea and Atlantic fishing areas, historically time has proven that over-fishing has destroyed the livelihoods and effected generations of people in cities all over Europe. [1]   It proved that nature does not have an endless stream of supply of food, for the ever increasing population demand.

It’s a good time to examine the educational benefits available to the fisherman and his family; there are wide disparities among regions and among provinces in terms of the equity of the distribution of education[2]  . In some parts of the country they are unable to converse to a reasonable level of English, and unless this material is translated to tagalog they do have no access to this wealth of free educational material. It’s increasingly obvious that an important part of the curriculum available to fishing families must also include an element of nature conservation and fishing sustainability. Perhaps the days of children walking on the reef (after school), doing irreparable damage to the coral whist catching fish for pennies for the aquarium industry.

So part of the discussion process when establishing the MPA could possibly include the provision of access to further education for the community which my cover a large area of subjects including alternative means of employment within the community, gender equality, ecotourism and other subjects that can be identified with improving the quality of life within the local population.

[1] Fishing in the North Sea

 [2]  Measuring Education Inequality in the Philippines by Eirene P. Mesa


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