Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries

Entry Overview

Multi-stakeholder Co-management Scheme in the Pilar Municipal Marine Park
Entrant Image: 
PMMP Management Board
Pilar, Surigao del Norte
14° 40' 0.0012" N, 120° 34' 0.0012" E
Describe the problem: 

Pilar Municipal Marine Park (PMMP) is situated on Ponson Island, Cebu Province, Philippines; in the boundary of two villages, Lower Poblacion and Villahermosa. It was initiated by the EcoGov-2 Project of USAID. Fluted clams, large barrel sponges, manta rays and schools of barracuda inhabit its clear blue waters aside from many species of marine invertebrates and tropical reef fishes. Located in what is considered a priority conservation area for reef fishes, the region was previously threatened by compressor fishing and illegal intrusion of commercial fishing boats. To address these threats, the PMMP established an innovative multi-stakeholder co-management scheme, which implemented activities that allow the completion of the life cycles of the diverse pelagic resources found in the area.

Biodiversity Impact: 
Established on September 19, 2005, the PMMP's management plan was formulated and updated through a participatory method. Its vision and mission are anchored on conserving marine biodiversity to ensure food security in the island for present and future generations. The plan explicitly stipulates that it will promote ecotourism so as not to endanger its ecological integrity and thus partnered with the Visayas State University’s Institute of Tropical Ecology for continued technical support. To date, activities carried out by the PMMP Management Team include: building a guardhouse and activity center for the 10 guards who work in pairs, 24 hours/day, on 2 daily shifts, thereby improving coastal law enforcement; establishing an education program on island biodiversity; mangrove planting and collection of crown-of-thorns; adopting a proper accounting system; and implementing regular evaluation of the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the project. The results of the PMMP have spoken for themselves and local fishermen are convinced on the need to maintain the project. As explained by Hazel Arceo, CRM Coordinator of EcoGov-2, “When fishers walk their talk, it is a very powerful deterrent to their fellow fishers who may be inclined to destructive practices. One sees in the fish wardens of Pilar a strong commitment to make their efforts bear fruit and slowly they are being rewarded for their efforts through healthier habitats that yield more fish for them and their families.” Arceo further expressed “They are fiercely dedicated to sustaining the PMMP,” she says.
Human Well Being and Livelihood Impact: 
Previous to its establishment, municipal fish catch in the Camotes Sea was very low at an average of 2.6 kgs/fisherman/day (204 days fishing). Local coastal resources management was extremely inconsistent, which to a certain degree, affected the nutritional status of the residents in Pilar where 18% of school-aged children were malnourished. Today, six years after the PMMP, municipal fish catch has increased to 5.5 kgs/fisher/day and the number of malnourished school-aged children decreased to 10%. These improvements can be attributed to the increase in fish abundance in the Camotes Sea, where nearly 32,000 individuals depend largely on the marine resources for their protein and their livelihoods. Testimonies of fishermen near the park are proof to the benefits derived from the increase in fish abundance through this project. Jeremias Obeda, father of four who regularly fish near the marine park reports that when catch was lowest “before the enforcement of the PMMP”, he would go home with merely two kilos of fish. He adds that he recently caught 15 kilos of fish on a single trip, “thanks to our marine sanctuary.” Obeda now enjoys a more comfortable life, earning up to P500 ($10) from selling his catch on a good day. He pools what he earns from fishing with his income from carpentry jobs at the municipal government and his wife’s earnings from vending cosmetics. In addition to this, fishermen do not need to go far to find the fish, and thereby save on fuel cost and the PMMP guards are making $2 per 12-hour duty. // Because of its multi-stakeholder nature, the PMMP was able to facilitate the enactment of relevant local policies; most importantly the Municipal CRM and Coastal Law Enforcement Plans and the Revised Basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance of 2010. Members of the management team were also active in the creation of the Camotes Sea CRM Council and in the implementation of activities as member of the MPA Network. On June 28, 2009, the PMMP was selected as the 2009 Most Outstanding Marine Protected Area of the Philippines, among seventy other MPAs that entered the biennial countrywide search conducted by the Philippine Marine Support Network. In reporting to USAID, EcoGov-2 Project has presented the PMMP as an example of the successful use of a co-management mechanism in MPA management. In fact, an applicant workshop conducted by Rare used the PMMP as a model of good MPA management practices. Inspired by the PMMP's success, other villages in the municipality established their own MPAs. Two of these are Esperanza and Dapdap, where the community-based organization NAKASE established a marine sanctuary and mangrove reserve named DEMSAMAR through the SCOBCIP Project.
How many years has your solution been applied 6 years // Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere? Yes // The Management Team is composed of the Municipal Mayor as Honorary Chairman; the Management Board; park officers and members of 7 working committees. The municipal and the two village government units; each composed of multi-sector representatives, comprise the Management Board. Each group contributes a specified amount for the project’s operational expenses. When a violator from one village is apprehended, the case is resolved by members from the other village, thereby reducing the possibility of patronage politics. Representatives from the local government, church, people’s organizations, and NGOs, are allowed to observe the proceedings but cannot influence the outcome resulting to more effective law enforcement. Hands-on leadership, team-building strategies (e.g. cross-visits), and technical support are key in order to harmonize the different and sometimes conflicting interests of the multi-stakeholder organizational set-up. Women and children are involved in the operation of the project with 10 women and a child-representative in the Management Board. To ensure the financial sustainability of the PMMP, the municipal and village ordinances supporting its establishment stipulate that its operational funds are to be allocated in their annual budgets. User fees are collected and rental for snorkeling gears and the service boat have been collected since September 17, 2008, thereby increasing the available funds as more tourists arrive. The Management Board members hold quarterly meetings and a general assembly of all Management Team members is conducted annually.
Periodic monitoring and evaluation show a steady increase in fish abundance and biomass as well as regeneration of coral areas previously wrecked by blasts and cyanide fishers. Data show a significant increase in the number of individual fish per 500m2 of reef within the marine sanctuaryƒ??s no-take zone: 372 in May 2005, 540 in April 2006, 605 in May 2007, 610 in May 2008, and 640 in May 2009. Fish biomass within the zone also grew from a mere 1.33 ton3 per km2 in 2005, to almost four times as much in 2009. The biodiversity benefits, however, are not limited to the marine fauna, since the MPA also protects the surrounding mangrove forest, which provide habitat to fruit bats, reptiles and migratory birds, now protected by a Municipal Ordinance. It has conducted mangrove restoration activities in collaboration with the staff of Smart Philippines; a mobile phone company, and another with the Disaster Prevention through CRM Project funded by Plan International-Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany. These restoration activities aim to enhance biodiversity since healthy mangroves can effectively contribute to the replenishment of fishing resources. The PMMP Management Team has conducted several social marketing activities, including the annual environment camp for youth and children, and talks during village assemblies. They are also actively involved as resource persons in the implementation of a two-year project funded by UNDP-GEF-SGP and implemented by NAKASE named ƒ??Strengthening Community-based Biodiversity Conservation Initiatives in Pilar, Cebuƒ? or SCOBCIP Project. // With almost thrice the size of other MPAs in the region, the PMMP has a total area of 179.2 hectares. Of these, 30 hectares have been declared a marine sanctuary, managed as an absolute no-take-zone; while the remaining 149.2 hectares have been designated as marine reserve where shell gleaning, spear fishing and hook-and-line fishing are allowed except net fishing. The area includes seagrass beds, a lush mangrove forest lining the periphery, sandy bottom ecosystems, and fringed by coral reefs located in 20 feet waters that drop off at 50-100 feet. For more information, visit Pilar Municipal Marine Park in Facebook or at http://www.rareconservation.org/blog/2011/01/20/the-pilar-municipal-marine-park-a-story-of-success-pt-1-case-study/.

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