Establishing the first locally managed marine area on the Northern Busuanga Coast

September 17 2018
sea

The Banua locally managed marine area in Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines seeks to innovate new ways to include local communities in low volume/high quality ecotourism to be net positive to the ecosystem. Utilizing both philanthropic and distributive models for tourism development commercial activities within no-take marine sanctuaries will generate well paying jobs, increase food security and rehabilitate severely damaged coral reef ecosystems.

September 17 2018

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Expedition Background

Presence of ecotourism as a deterrent to illegal and destructive fishing.


Our NGOs marine monitoring station in Northern Palawan has seen a 73% drop in large marine animals in the past 5 years and there is no tourism on the island or even a small hotel for at least 10 miles. Tourism isn’t killing the wildlife in this location, it’s a growing population of migrant illegal commercial fisherman and local inhabitants using destructive fishing methods with very little management of a fragile slow growing natural resources.

In the ‘do nothing’ scenario this stretch of coral reef continues to get over fished by a small group of fisherman using unsustainable methods with no short or long term benefits to the community, no jobs created, no nursery for fish and coral to help repopulate the rest of the island, no awareness campaigns, no capacity building, no participatory education, no skills training, etc.

With no enforcement of well written laws, beach front land within the entire ancestral domain of the Tagbanua sits unused often next to a beach covered with marine plastic and harvested by wandering squatters for all trees and wild animals of any food or commercial value. The Tagbanua do not want to sell their land to land developers but have very little capital or skills to guard the natural assets of their land or operate high quality small scale ecotourism operations. They are seeing a boom in tourism around them but are not participating in the economic growth.

The subsistence fisherman along this coast have been disenfranchised for decades by rich land owners grabbing up their prime beachfront land often at very low prices during times of distress. They have decided not to sell any more property to outsiders and land can only be sold between people of the community. No proxy land ownership or hoarding of land is allowed. Land is the major source of wealth that parents can give to their children. So there are hundreds of miles of tropical beach front property in the highest ranked island in the world for tourism quickly being depleted of all wildlife without management.

In 2004 we discovered a world class surfing wave at this intersection of currents in the Mindoro Strait. For the past 8 years our NGO has slowly been building trust and acceptance with the community and now we think the time ready to expand operations and distribute benefits of an MPA/Ecotourism project.

The Banua MPA project will invite hundreds of skilled paying volunteers to help rehabilitate the natural regenerative powers of 20 hectares of coral reef inside a no take marine sanctuary destroyed by decades of over fishing and destructive fishing practices. As an added incentive volunteers and donors to the program will have exclusive access to the surfing wave and coral nursery for Scuba diving.

Technology will be highly leveraged for monitoring of vessel activity and baseline assessments of fisheries and habitats over time. The technology platform will also enable hundreds of thousands of people to visit and follow progress in near real time over the internet without having to physically travel to the remote location.

This program is the catalyst to create a shift in practices that results in compounding net positive contributions to the ecosystems in a network of similar marine protected areas covering hundreds of kilometers of coastline in this area.

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