Approach towards Strengthening and Sustaining MPA Management aims to enrich the northern communities' Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) bringing this once mighty fish haven back into a flourishing slice of the world renowned Coral Triangle. The area has already established a total of 11 MPAs. This project’s intention is to strengthen and sustain two of the community-organized MPAs. Years of illegal and destructive fishing practices in the municipal waters has led to the decrepitude of the marine habitats which are critical for fish spawning. Further, with the added stress of an increasing population, the area has become over-fished thus, compounding the pressure on already vulnerable fish stocks. As a result, fish catch has plummeted in the local community as well as around the nation. Accordingly, many are called to action to reverse such damages. In protest to declining fish stocks, Philippine national laws have gone into effect calling for the establishment of MPAs. Efforts to construct and enforce MPAs are giving fish and other wildlife a chance to prosper once again, and a possibility for the disappearing critical habitats to be rehabilitated in the process. The local government will have the capacity to strengthen the established MPAs through conducting information, education, and communication campaigns (IECS), collecting critical habitat data and conducting a fish stock inventory in these MPAs. Further, by creating MPA management plans, installing buoys and boundary markers as well as constructing informational signboards in individual communities, the local government will strengthen the effectiveness of the MPAs in the community.
Peace Corps Volunteer with her Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Office (MDRRO) counterpart and Supervisor have identified this project to be a priority in the community based on the June 2019 Integrated Coastal Resource Management Planning (ICRMP) Workshop. Members of predominant fisher folk organizations, the heads of the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (MFARMC), LGU employees from ten different departments, government partners, and local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) all joined together to devise the ICRMP and have identified the strengthening of MPAs to be one of the top goals for coastal resource and fisheries management.
Only trusted members of MDRR will have access to the gear. The door to the office has a secure lock, ensuring the safety of this rather expensive gear that is necessary for this project to take place. All gears will be kept in this area for future use and dive team members will practice proper disassembling and cleaning procedures for all dive gear. Each set of gear will be washed, hung, dried, and stored properly in this location after every dive assessment, both during the life of this project and during future assessments. The gear will be utilized in future MPA assessments and during times of habitat assessment in areas outside of MPAs. Having essential dive gear is crucial in replicating this project in the other areas harboring MPAs. As dive gear is needed to assess the health and function of MPAs, the gear truly has an invaluable role in this project and in future MPA assessments.