Today is: Fri, May 24, 2013
Networked Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) key to conservation, productivity
Local government units link up to preserve Bohol Sea biodiversity
The Bohol Sea, with 2,810 hectares of mangroves, 132 square kilometers of coral reefs rich in marine life, and eight species of cetaceans is considered one of the most important fishery and biodiversity sites in the Philippines. It is also a priority area for the conservation of mangroves, cetaceans, corals, and whale sharks; all important com-ponents of the local economy. Livelihoods from fisheries and coastal tourism depend on the richness of the Bohol Sea.
However, this rich sea, and its component ecosystems face threats from illegal and destructive fishing practices, overexploitation, and pollution from land and marine-based sources.
Local governments responded to these threats by estab-lishing marine protected areas (MPAs). But of the 190 MPAs, many are too small, and many are poorly man-aged.
Three municipalities in southern Bohol — Duero, Guin-dulman, and Jagna — joined together to better utilize MPAs to protect their resources and livelihoods.
These three Local Government Units (LGUs) set out to strengthen the management of their MPAs by adopting the MPA networking approach with technical assistance from USAID’s Philippine Environmental Governance Project (EcoGov) and the Provincial Government. MPA network-ing is a process of linking individual MPAs and marine sanctuaries based on ecological and sociopolitical inter-connectedness.
Oceanographic currents that carry developing fish larvae from one place to another link the coastal and marine habitats of the three municipalities, providing the rationale for working together so that the livelihoods of fishers throughout the area can be sustained.
Working together on coastal law enforcement as members of an existing Coastal Law Enforcement Council, these LGUs facilitated the formation of the MPA Network of Duero, Guindulan and Jagna (DuGJan).
In May 2007, DuGJan signed an agreement establishing an MPA network comprised of 20 MPAs covering a total of 263 hectares in the three municipalities. LGUs work to-gether to harmonize coastal resource management-related policies and ordinances, conduct joint seaborne patrolling, perform participatory monitoring and evaluation of marine sanctuaries, and draft policies to develop their marine ecotourism potential.
Each LGU contributes $1,000 annually to a Trust Fund to support the operations and activities of the network. The Provincial Environment and Management Office also pro-vides technical and financial support.
Through this collaborative effort, large areas of threatened and critical marine habitats and populations are protected and placed under improved management, not only within MPAs but also in adjacent areas, due to stronger and more coordinated law enforcement. MPA networking also provides opportunities for managers and stakeholders to learn from each other and enhance the management of MPAs across the entire network.
The Provincial Government of Bohol has learned from this example, and has started to apply networking concepts and processes in another area called, Maribojoc Bay. The DuGJan MPA network, as well as other networks being assisted by EcoGov in Camotes, Cebu and Negros Orien-tal, show the range of political and socio-economic reali-ties where inter-LGU collaboration can succeed. MPA networking is an effective strategy for improving coastal resources management.
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