CCRES trainer Carlie Dario discusses applying the MPA design tools with partners.

MPA design tool roll-out begins in the Philippines

CCRES and its partner the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPMSI) ran a baseline workshop in Quezon City from 31 July to 1 August 2018, to kickstart the roll-out of the Rebuilding reef fisheries with marine protected areas (MPAs) toolbox.

The primary aim of the workshop was to gain resolution on how to operationalize the roll-out with local partners and end-users, particularly to develop a shared workplan, with clear inputs from CCRES and partners, and to evaluate the effort needed to address the data requirements to use the tools.

Several organizations that have previously expressed interest and now commitment in using the MPA design tools were represented at the workshop. This included the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and SMARTSeas PH (United Nations Development Programme and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines) with its Responsible Partners – Haribon Foundation, Conservation International Philippines, and WWF. These organizations, whose technical staff were trained in the June 2017 and April 2018 workshops, work in critical sites in the Philippines. For example, the SMARTSeas PH works in five seascapes across the country including the Verde Island Passage in southern Luzon and Lanuza Bay in Mindanao.

CCRES trainer Graceous Von Yip discusses applying the MPA design tools with partners.

A combination of presentations and discussions was used to achieve the workshop objectives. Marine Spatial Planning trainer Carlie Dario presented the MPA design toolbox including the MPA size optimization tool and MPA placement optimization tool from the Marine Spatial Ecology Lab at the University of Queensland, and postdoc Vera Horigue of UPMSI provided a refresher on Fish SPACE. Partners also gave talks on their respective organizations, focusing on current and future work, objectives in MPA planning, and potential challenges and enabling factors in using the tools.

In the Philippines where there are at least 1,700 MPAs, there are opportunities to enhance efforts by increasing size, selecting better sites for protection, and strengthening enforcement. Fish SPACE can demonstrate the benefits of different MPA designs and complementary fisheries interventions while the MPA size and placement tools can provide robust guidance on optimum size and location respectively. “In the Philippine setting, total protection is challenging but establishing MPA networks provides an opportunity to increase protection,” says Mr. Nonoy Beldia of the Malampaya Foundation.

Workshop participants agreed that the roll-out of the MPA design tools would be facilitated through a combination of clinics and direct technical support, and for CCRES and its partners to provide counterpart support to enable a successful roll-out.

Facilitators and participants at the MPA design tools baseline workshop in Quezon City in August 2018.