(L-R) GEF Natural Resources Management (NRM) Unit Head Ulysses Triambulo and NPCO Geographic Information System Specialist Arnel Tenorio explain the core zone and buffer zone they identified in the Caramay MPA to Barangay Councilor Reynaldo Cosenas and MIMAROPA RPCO Deputy Project Director Alex Ronquillo. (Photo by Elmo Morillo, DA-PRDP RPCO 4B InfoACE Unit)
Seven marine protected areas (MPAs) along Green Island Bay in Roxas, Palawan will be given P26 million-worth of funding through the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) has approved P20.9 million budget for GEF, through the Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB), with an additional P5.2 million equity from the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Roxas, Palawan.
The GEF fund, which aims to strengthen the conservation of coastal and marine resources in the country through biodiversity conservation and fisheries resources management, will benefit the MPAs of Johnson Island, Caramay, Malcampo, San Miguel, Tuamarbong, Tinitian and Rizal in the Green Island Bay.
The proposed assistance in the area will include 24/7 lookout within the MPAs, capacity building activities for the MPA Management Board and members of the Bantay Dagat, and establishment of signage and provisions of buoys, sinkers, and patrol boats.
Apart from the GEF assistance, the seven barangays will also benefit from subprojects under the enterprise development (I-REAP) component of PRDP. These will have a separate budget which was also subjected to the RPAB approval.
The proposed subprojects are the “Grouper Culture Livelihood Project” of the San Miguel Fisherfolk Assistance; the “Green Grouper Production and Marketing” of Malcampo Fisherfolk Association, Samahan ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Tinitian, and Caramay Fisherfolk Association; the “Aquasilviculture (Mangrove and Crab) Project” of the Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Barangay Rizal; and the “Seaweeds Culture and Production Project” of the Green Island Fishefolk Association.
The “Seaweeds Nursery, Production, and Marketing,” proposed by the Johnson Island Fisherfolk Association, which is the pilot subproject under GEF, is currently in the procurement and implementation phase.
Mayor Maria Angela Sabando (center) of Roxas, Palawan expresses her gratitude to DA-PRDP for choosing their municipality as the pilot site for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) subprojects. Sharing the table with her are MIMAROPA RPCO Deputy Project Director Alex Ronquillo (left) and NPCO NRM Unit Head Ulysses Triambulo (right) during the presentation of the result of the Participatory Rapid Appraisal-Resource and Social Assessment (PRA-RSA). (Photo by Elmo Morillo, DA-PRDP RPCO 4B InfoACE Unit)
GEF underwater validation
As part of the activities for the said subprojects, the PRDP National Project Coordination Office (NPCO) recently facilitated the site validation and the 2016 Participatory Rapid Appraisal-Resource and Social Assessment (PRA-RSA) of the Green Island Bay.
NPCO’s Natural Resources Management (NRM) Unit Head Ulysses Triambulo and South Luzon Project Support Office’s NRM Specialist Ferdinand Cruz led the said validation. Also with them were the team from the MIMAROPA Regional Project Coordinating Office (RPCO), Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Office of Roxas, and Resource Environment and Economics Center for Studies.
The group identified bleached corals due to temperature rise and high diversity of reef and pelagic fish species (barracuda and carangs). There was low visibility due to heavy siltation in coral areas due to alleged presence of several small-scale mining in the upland areas.
There were also poor coral cover percentage and very few reef fishes observed. The observed algae has taken over some of the damaged coral areas due to illegal fishing activities in the past such as the use of cyanide and blasting among others. Reef fishes ranging from 1 to 10 centimeter in size were observed to be more abundant than larger individuals which indicates that fishes are being prematurely caught.
To save the areas from further damage, the validating team has recommended some necessary actions to be taken.
First, traffic and anchorage of boat within the Green Island Bay must be properly regulated to conserve and protect sea grass areas which are the habitat and grazing areas of the endangered dugong and some species of marine turtles. Second, permanent mooring buoys should be established to minimize damage caused by indiscriminate anchorage of boats.
The team also proposed that the management should ensure the 24/7 presence or visibility of Bantay Dagat in the coastal areas. The MPA Board should also implement and adopt the strategies indicated in the final MPA Management Plans through their own Sangguniang Bayan Ordinance.
The said results and recommendations were based on the validation report presented by the NPCO during the activity’s exit conference.