The Giving Seas Conserving Ecosystems for Healthy Communities
Editors James Kho
Contributing Writers Rupert Mangilit
Zy-za Nadine Suzara Didy Evangelista
Overview This compilation of case studies illustrates the best practices that USAID catalyzed in the eight marine key biodiversity areas that the ECOFISH Project worked in. The case studies are organized according to the same chapters in the main report. In these case studies, national agencies, LGUs and fishing communities worked together to implement management actions that address both ecological and human well-being consistent with an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM).
1. LGUs implement early management interventions in municipal waters
o USAID built on what the LGUs were already doing, whether simple or advanced. We worked with them to set their priorities for enhancing their existing initiatives, according to their comfort zone and capacity.
o We listened to stakeholders and gathered basic information. The baseline and monitoring data that we collected were shared with stakeholders to be used in designing or improving management interventions.
o USAID laid the foundation of a more comprehensive EAFM process assoon as LGUs build confidence from early management interventions, expanding from individual municipalities to inter-LGU cooperation by seeking the support of the provincial government.
In these three case studies, USAID began its engagement with stakeholders in the sites by listening to what they said were their priorities. In Panglima Sugala, USAID had previously started establishment of marine protected areas and was renewing its commitment of support to the LGU. In both Balayan Bay and Lingayen Gulf cases, stakeholders have high awareness of conservation of fisheries and marine biodiversity; these areas have a long history of management interventions, but sustaining efforts have been elusive. USAID worked with the stakeholders to identify an action that had broad support and potential high impact. It provided the forums for discussion to build consensus on goals and tasks, as well as provide the scientific and policy studies to support these actions. In Tawi-Tawi, USAID strengthened support for LGU initiatives for marine protected areas and linked the efforts of various LGUs to rekindle an alliance. For Balayan Bay, USAID built on the science and local knowledge to help forge a consensus on establishing a closed season. This management action achieved many firsts in the country: first inter-LGU-initiated and implemented closed season at this scale; first management intervention that incorporated cash-for-work for the affected fishers; first uniform ordinance passed by participant LGUs to implement a common management action. Finally, in Lingayen Gulf, USAID helped revive an inter-LGU cooperation that had once flourished, but then declined in the wake of changing political dynamics. [Tawi-tawi enforcement] Panlima Sugala boasts an impressive number of Bantay Dagat (Sea Patrol), Bantay Santuaryo (Fish Sanctuary Guards) and Bantay Kalikasan (Environmental Patrol) personnelmore than 120 men in total. The town started out with a few Bantay Dagat volunteers. Under USAIDs previous Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest (FISH) Project , the town embarked on a participatory coastal resource assessment of its fishing grounds and coastal communities made the officials and townsfolk fully aware of not only the richness of marine life that inhabit their waters, but also the extent of marine habitats their seas and coastlines house. Eleven of Panglima Sugalas 17 barangays host sprawling mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. Of the 11 coastal barangays, 7 were declared Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in 2006. But while this bade better prospects for Panglima Sugalas seas, building MPAs entailed setting restrictions on the fishing effortin particular, dismantling the slats of baklad (native fish corrals) that used to line the protected areas. Nasirin Taraji, now the chair of Bantay Santuaryo guards manning Panglima Sugalas waters, was among the longtime fishers those who owned baklads. Many of our fellow fishers resisted the idea. They feared they would lose their livelihood. It was a challenge to convince them to forego their baklads. The mayor of Panglima Sugala came up with a proposal: why not deputize the fishers as marine guards? Soon after, Taraji and his fellow fishers were patrolling the seas as Bantay Santuaryo. We gave them honoraria as high as P2,000, said Salih. The annual budget of Panglima Sugala allocates a budget for the guards honoraria. Initially still, some of Tarajis fellow fishers refused to buy the idea. Worse, some of them resorted to more destructive practices, and, as Taraji himself experienced, were ready to inflict harm when caught in the act. Once, we apprehended a local fisher lobbing a dynamite within the MPA bounds, said Taraji. We
saw him about to pull out a gun. He was fuming mad at us. He thought we [Bantay Santuaryo volunteers] were only securing the areas because we wanted to keep the waters to ourselves, that the MPA grounds were ours alone to fish. After calming down the erring fisher, we educated him about the need for MPAs and how it eventually works to their advantage, said Taraji. Even when his and his fellow fishers lives have been put on the line, Taraji believes the risk is nothing compared to the benefits of stronger enforcement: We witnessed firsthand how the fish gradually increased in volume, he said. The mangroves have grown in size and number. For Panglima Sugala, sustainability of its enforcement efforts would not be so much of a challenge that they are ready to look outwards. For one, he shared they are just steps closer to formalizing the expansion an existing alliance of municipalities with marine sanctuaries along Tawi-Tawi Bay. Through the facilitation of USAIDs current ECOFISH Project, Salih said, the alliance has grown to seven municipalities from just three. If these municipalities would have enforcement problems, wed be willing to lend our patrol force. The alliance, he added, will also provide us a venue to share each others best practices in enforcement. Pagpapahinga: Closed Season to Open Minds on Marine Conservation Balayan Bay, a part of the Verde Island Passage marine key biodiversity area, has long been plagued by illegal fishing activities and overfishing due to the continuing rise in the number of commercial fishing vessels in the Bay. Some encroaching of fishing boats come from as far as Navotas and Malabon. Long-time fisherfolk have observed the continued decline in fish caught in the Bay. The problem had become so pervasive that several commercial fishers from Calatagan suggested stopping fishing operations for a while to help the fish regenerate. Sadyang sa amin nanggaling. Nakikita [ng mga commercial fishers] na pag ipinahinga yung dagat at pag hindi nahuli yung mga nangingitlog na isda, e may chance talaga na dumami yung isda, Emelyn Custodio, the Calatagan Municipal Agriculturist says. But as she also mentions in another interview, their problem was how to implement it. Pero kailan dapat? Anong gear ang nakakaapekto? Aling species ang kailangang itigil muna ang panghuhuli? Local scientists agreed there was a need for a seasonal closure in Balayan Bay. With Conservation International Philippines, USAID, and other partners conducting a study to identify which months of the year and which species would be part of the closed season, Custodios questions were answered. The results of the study were presented to the technical working group composed of representatives of the province, municipalities and all stakeholder groups. On the strength of that study, nine municipalities Bauan, Balayan, Calaca, Calatagan, Lemery, Mabini, San Luis, Tingloy and Taal decided to let the bay rest (pagpapahinga). On December 11, 2014, the first cycle of the closed season in Balayan Bay began. The closure lasted for twenty days, until December 31, 2014. During that period, no commercial fishing vessels could operate in its waters, giving the galunggong and the matambaka, two species that call Balayan Bay home, time to breed and spawn. This was a very difficult experiment, made even more challenging because the closure fell on Christmas season, when fishing families rely on their meager income to celebrate the holidays. Nevertheless, the affected fishers made the sacrifice. The boat owners could weather the closure because they has savings or other income sources. They crew members were at a loss. The technical working group foresaw this early on and tried to find a solution. With the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), affected crew members were engaged in a cash-for-work arrangement, where they reported to their LGU to do work related to environmental protection, such as coastal clean-up. In exchange, DSWD provided funds to pay for the work. For the most part, there were few violations during the closed season, with some municipalities claiming zero violations. The success of the first year implementation of the closed season has emboldened the LGUs to continue yearly for the succeeding six years. They also committed to conduct a review of its impact of the closure on fish stocks and livelihoods. In the weeks after the first closure, fishers were
already reporting an increase in fish catch. There was also many reports that dulong (juvenile fish) was in abundance. Baywatch: La Unions Fight against Illegal Fishing One of the greatest threats that the Lingayen Gulf Marine Key Biodiversity Area (MKBA) has to tackle is the rise of illegal fishing activities. From destructive practices such as blas