Seaweed and grouper culture sustain communities in marine protected areas assisted by PRDP
MATNOG, SORSOGON – Unlike previous summers when the island of Calintaan of this municipality is astir with tourists, today, an empty Subic Beach, known for its pinkish-white sand, is the “new normal.” According to Editha Frencillo, president of the Samahan ng Kababaihang Bantay Sanktuaryo ng Calintaan, Matnog (SKBCM), this has been the situation in the island since the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to COVID-19 was implemented.
The women’s organization used to engage in health and wellness such as providing body massage to tourists as a livelihood project after their surveillance duties in the Fish Sanctuary Rehabilitation (Community Based Coastal Ecosystem Protection and Biodiversity Conservation), a marine protected area (MPA) supported by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)-Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The PRDP in partnership with GEF provided P4.3 million-worth of capability building and institutional trainings, and MPA enforcement and management support facilities to rehabilitate the said municipal fish sanctuary and marine reserve. The Project also pledged to support monitoring and patrolling and maintenance after rehabilitation. Currently, the Bantay Dagat team patrols the MPA site for 24 hours throughout the year. Meanwhile, the Calintaan-Calayuan-Paghuliran-Poropandan (CCPP) Fish Farmers Association, a cluster proponent group, serves as sanctuary guards, assisted by the 36 members of the SKBCM.
To provide livelihood and income to members of both partner organizations, the PRDP-GEF developed the P1.66 million-worth Seaweeds Production Project and Grouper Culture enterprise. According to PRDP-Bicol Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) Officer Rosechell Labilles, as of April 2020, the CCPP Fish Farmers Association was able to culture 300 pieces out of the 2,000 pieces of grouper stocks delivered by PRDP-GEF in November 2019. The organization is in the process of sizing the cultured grouper to determine the number of marketable pieces. The SKBCM, on the other hand, is in charge of the Seaweeds Production Project. The latter, however, is waiting for the release of the first tranche of PRDP-GEF interventions. Nonetheless, this did not deter Frencillo and her members from getting ready for its full operation. While on quarantine, members of the SKBCM engage in seaweed production in their one-hectare seaweed plantation using the propagules provided by the Sorsogon Provincial Agriculture Office under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) project.
“Basta ngayon na lockdown, stop muna (ang turismo) kaya mas lalong gaganda ngayon yung mga corrals. Nakaka-adjust din kahit paano, kahit sabihin natin na malungkot, pero inaaliw na lang namin yung mga sarili namin, nilalaan namin sa pagtatanim ng gulaman. Na kahit paano, naka-quarantine, ganito nga, may kalamidad, hindi namin inaaksaya ang oras naming. Siyempre nandoon pa rin kami sa pagtatanim ng gulaman. (While on lockdown, tourism temporarily stopped so we expect improved corral growth. Somehow, we are trying to adjust. Although it’s a bit sad but we try to comfort ourselves by investing more time in seaweed planting so that inspite of this calamity, while we are on quarantine, we are not wasting our time)” Frencillo said.
She added that they harvested 400 kilograms of seaweeds which they sold for P10 (fresh) and P45 (dried) per kilogram. They also engaged in backyard gardening in support to the government’s food sufficiency efforts in their community. In addition, Frencillo urged her members to put up their own vegetable gardens for their family consumption using seeds provided by the Department of Agriculture High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist.
The Community Based Coastal Ecosystem Protection and Biodiversity Conservation subproject of PRDP-GEF in Matnog, Sorsogon aims to improve the MPA management effectiveness, increase biomass, and raise the income of fisherfolk and their families. The PRDP GEF-funded subproject also intends to develop and sustain eco-tourism, reduce illegal fishing activities, and improve the community’s participation in sustainable management of the municipal waters. ### (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V with reports from Rosechell Labilles, NRM Officer)
Photos were taken during the delivery of grouper stocks in Matnog, Sorsogon in November 2019.
File photo by Rosechell Labilles and Editha Frencillo