Coastal Resource Use, Management, and Marine Protected Areas in the Philippines
Wagner, Cherie A.
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This analysis of coastal resource perceptions and behaviors demonstrates that while there are documented successes throughout the Philippines in community-based integrated coastal management projects, opportunities and challenges remain to fully realize the benefits identified by local communities. Using survey data from 40 communities in Bohol, Luzon, Mindoro Occidental, and Mindoro Oriental, marine conservation perceptions and behaviors were evaluated. Coastal resource users were found to perceive resource problems such as a decline in fish and feel that management and conservation are the responsibility of the government. Barangays (villages) with a community-based marine protected area (MPA) are more likely to support restrictions on fishing activity, report fishing violations, and be a member of bantay dagat (sea guards). Awareness of MPAs in three island provinces was high (70%) with fishing and seaweed farming households having the highest level of awareness. Overall, resource users perceive MPAs as being beneficial and are willing to protect larger marine areas. Their acceptance is complementary to increasing efforts of scaling up marine reserve areas, especially where MPAs are small. Community participation in marine protected area activities and management in the study sites, recognized as a critical factor in the success of community-based management, is low. This study suggests that given the high community acceptance and perceived benefits of marine protected areas, there is an opportunity to implement more effective management and scale up to ecological and social networks of MPAs. Community-based coastal resource management should involve participatory processes that take into account local needs and expectations, build capacity, and empower community members to manage their resources.
- Marine affairs