Dr Vera Horigue, CCRES Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UPMSI, guides a participant in the use of Fish SPACE (Photo: Philippines Country Coordinating Unit).

Philippine roll-out of MPA design tools

CCRES continues to promote uptake by assisting local government and communities in strengthening coastal management.

CCRES partner the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPMSI), in collaboration with key organisations, facilitated clinics for the uptake of the Rebuilding reef fisheries through MPAs toolbox in the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Palawan and Batangas during September and October 2018.

A local project team of coordination and technical staff from UPMSI and the University of Queensland used Fish SPACE to evaluate the benefits of marine reserves and complementary fisheries interventions, and the MPA Size Optimization and MPA Placement Optimization tools to explore marine reserve designs for different fisheries and biodiversity conservation objectives.

CCRES worked with the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Agricultural Office and Malampaya Foundation in Oriental Mindoro; the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and WWF Palawan; and the Batangas Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office. Participants were local coastal managers and planners, and technical staff from provincial to local government and assisting non-government organisations. The workshops were facilitated through a combination of activities including presentations, hands-on exercises, and group discussions. The participants used their own data to apply the MPAs toolbox.

As in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, Philippine coastal communities rely on coral reef habitats for various ecosystem services, not least fisheries, for food and livelihood. There is a conscious effort among local stakeholders to continuously seek ways to improve current marine planning processes. The CCRES MPA design tools can be used to facilitate open conversations to consider the trade-offs of different management priorities.

The clinics yielded lessons for both CCRES and the participating organisations. In Oriental Mindoro, participants remarked on how the MPA design tools are useful in communicating proposed plans to local managers and decision-makers.

An MPA manager from the environment and natural resources office in Batangas City reflects, “Now I know the needed effort for data preparation and can set appropriate lead time,” referring to how they will continue using Fish SPACE to enhance their existing MPAs.

Meanwhile, in Palawan, PCSD staff, who continuously work to incorporate science in their policies, recognized the value of fish home range and larval dispersal as determinants in establishing MPAs while using the MPA Size Optimization and MPA Placement Optimization tools. Local partner John Pontillas of PCSD also thanked the team for their efforts, which he thought were “realistic, grounded, and creative."

CCRES trainers Carlie Dario and Von Yip work through MPA design exercises with participants (Photo: Philippines Country Coordinating Unit).