Chevron Philippines Inc operates a depot a few kilometres from Danahon Bank, a rare double barrier reef system and the only one of its kind in the country. Between 2011 and 2012 Chevron formed a strong tripartite private-government-community alliance to restore the marine environment
Chevron Philippines Inc (CPI), operates a depot in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Central Philippines. A few kilometres from the depot lies Danahon Bank, a rare double barrier reef system and the only one of its kind in the country. Danahon Bank is a global centre of marine biodiversity. It is a critical fishing ground for thousands of fishermen from four provinces. But since the 1950s, systematic exploitation and the absence of conservation have severely degraded its habitats. Astride the middle of Danahon Bank is the Minantaw Reef, an over-exploited and abused fishing ground for nearby island villages, including Caubian.
Chevron believed that creating a marine park and sanctuary in Minantaw would not only help protect Danahon Bank, it would also improve the lives of families in Lapu-Lapu who rely on fishing for their livelihood.
Objectives and delivery
To meet its objectives of saving the reef while helping local people, Chevron and PSF carefully developed the Minantaw Marine Park and Sanctuary by forming a strong tripartite private-government-community alliance. The focus was on community organisation, the formation and capacity-building of the management council as well as monitoring the biophysical conditions of the marine sanctuary. The creation of the marine park followed six clear stages of development and planning.
• First, a bio-physical survey of Minantaw Reef was conducted to assess its condition.
• Second, the information from the survey was shared through community mobilisation.
• Third, the political framework was created by securing an endorsement of the project by Caubian Barangay Council to the City Council.
• Fourth, after an executive order was issued to create the Minantaw Marine Park and Sanctuary, PSF and NAMACA, the local fishermen’s union, worked on organising a management council, which was chaired by the local mayor.
• Fifth, the project was maintained through regular meetings, broad-scale planning, operational planning and community engagement.
• Finally, the partners sought to build the management and leadership capabilities of NAMACA, with training in coastal law enforcement plus strategic and operational planning.
However the key challenge was converting Caubian’s notorious illegal fishermen into protectors of the environment. Residents also objected because their fishing ground was to be converted into a “no-take” zone, depriving them of access to the reef. This resistance was gradually converted into support for the project through community engagement, feedback sessions and an education drive. Project Seahorse conducted seminars and workshops among local fishermen and monitors the conditions of the marine sanctuary biophysically.
Seaweed farms were incorporated into the sanctuary for protection and better management. A regulated fishing zone was also established, which gave Caubian residents preferential fishing access.
The City Government appointed a community environment and natural resources officer to oversee the implementation of environmental laws and programmes. Showing that the programme was gaining traction with communities and local decision-makers, the Caubian village council passed a resolution seeking a second sanctuary on the adjacent island of Caubian Dako.
With the mayor’s emphasis on tourism, all eco-tourism destinations secured both protection and funding to ensure momentum was maintained. The council proposed a user’s fee for all tourist destinations belonging to the city to generate funds both for the marine project and other community ventures.
Minantaw Marine Park and Sanctuary has now become a pioneering, 215-hectare (531-acre), multi-use marine zone. It was the first in the Philippines to integrate a regulated fishing zone (62 hectares), an ecological seaweed farming zone (55 hectares), an ecologically sustainable use zone (37 hectares) and a strict “no-take” zone (the 50-hectare sanctuary).
Since the area was declared a sanctuary, local fishermen have noticed an increase in the population of marine creatures such as squid, crabs and rabbitfish as well as seaweed. A regrowth of the coral population that was decimated through illegal activities such as dynamite fishing has also been observed.
The number of illegal fishermen has been reduced drastically, some now catching crabs and squid instead, a legal activity.
With the improvement in the health of the double-barrier reef, the lives of Caubian villagers have changed. Caubian production of seaweed for industry in Cebu has increased significantly. Barangay fishermen are also now able to meet the crab requirement of resorts on the nearby island of Olango and mainland Lapu-Lapu.
The residents of Caubian understand the value of the sanctuary as they see an increase in the quantity of fish in the area and they actively patrol and enforce laws such as that covering the proper disposal of garbage.
Thirty-three families do daily clean-up activities around the island before they receive cash transfers from the village chief. Under the “Sako para Basura” (Sack for Trash programme), a sack is distributed to families as part of their waste management efforts and garbage is taken to the city’s landfill.
In short, the community has taken responsibility for protecting its environment.
There are other direct benefits for local communities. For example, income derived from fishing is used for schooling of the children, repair of housing and even the purchase of a new pump boat. The marine park has led to more employment opportunities for Caubian residents, with 25 of them working in nearby resorts.
NAMACA, the fishermen’s union, has grown in terms of capacity, membership and community support. The marine park has led to improvements in fish catches and earnings. Catches of commercially valuable species such as rabbitfish, crabs, squid, lukot, urok and seaweed in the regulated fishing zone have steadily increased.
With an average increase of 440 fish per year per hectare, local marine biologists believe the no-fishing zone can possibly yield about 114,000 fish by 2017. Cebu’s seaweed industry is also benefitting from the project with a successful harvest of ten tons in one season. Project Seahorse is assured of continuity and its impact sustained over the long term by its legal mandate, which also ensures financial support, including revenue-generating schemes and strategies such as users’ fees, fines and penalties.
Commenting on the programme, Raissa Bautista, manager for policy, government and public affairs for CPI, said: “(CPI) believes in fostering environmental values and putting them into action through strong partnerships. We hope that this project will inspire more businesses and conservationists to work together in maintaining a clean, safe environment.”
This case study was written by SharingValueAsia in consultation with Chevron Philippines and its partners. It will appear in special report entitled “Partnership in Action” produced in association with Hewlett-Packard in August 2014
This case study was written by SharingValueAsia in consultation with PX Mart and Ogilvy. It will appear in special report entitled “Partnership in Action” produced in association with Hewlett-Packard in August 2014
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Chevron Philippines Inc,
Project Seahorse Foundation,
United Fishers of Caubian
Caubian Barangay Council