Seaweed, MPA implementation all set in Bohol

The project for the protection of the rich resources of Bohol’s Danajon Double Barrier Reef will soon begin.

This was declared by World Bank representative Jim Hancock during the recently concluded 4th World Bank Implementation Support Mission held on May 15 to 18 in Bohol.

Speaking during the Mission, a regular activity of the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP), Hancock said all marine protected areas (MPAs) and seaweed proposals are all set, and the budget expected to be released in no time.

The Bilangbilangan East Marine Sanctuary boasts its rich coral reefs.

Of the total projected fund of P33 million, P23 million is a grant from the World Bank for the proponent groups to foster stronger and deeper marine protection efforts for resources such as the Danajon Double Barrier Reef.

The Danajon Bank has long been heavily exposed to extreme pressure of illegal and overfishing practices. It was included in the list of six pilot sites in the country that will be supported under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the DA-PRDP.

Duing the 4th GEF Review Mission, Hancock, the UN Food and Agriculture–Natural Resource Management Officer, together with a team of experts from partner implementing agencies, visited two of the eight pilot GEF sites.

They also conducted consultations with four proponent groups: Bilangbilangan East Marine Sanctuary in Bien Unido, and the Aguining Marine Sanctuary in President Carlos P. Garcia. These sites target Marine Protected Area (MPA) rehabilitation and on-the-ground improvement.

“On the whole, it looks good; very complete. The MPA is in good condition despite the issues with typhoons like ‘Yolanda.’ [There are] lots of branching corals and big fishes,” Hancock said.

Word Bank representative Jim Hancock (2nd to the right) meets with the
Proponent Groups of Bien Unido to assess the PGs Marine Protected Area level management and seaweed production experiences.

MPA PROTECTION

Hancock’s consultation with the proponent groups focused on understanding the foundation the groups have built in relation to their marine protection efforts, sustainability plans, challenges, resolutions, and limitations on the law enforcement side in the apprehension of violators.

Once on-the–ground improvement begins, DA-PRDP through its GEF will provide the proponent groups with a mother boat, patrol pump boat, and a floating guard house that will help enhance visibility measures in safeguarding Danajon’s significant MPAs.

“The World Bank project can’t put in money to do patrolling, but it’s a long-term commitment that we have to build up,” Hancock said.

SEAWEED EXPERIENCE

Residents of Bien Unido have been engaged in seaweed production since the 1970s. Thus, the proponent groups are pushing for support from the DA-PRDP, particularly in improving seaweed production, including their marine protection plans.

During the Mission, those involved in the project also highlighted mutual concessions from planting and non-planting seasons, harvest quality, factors that might affect seaweed growth like increased water temperature and adaptive capacity of seaweed planters.

In addition, farmers who are hands-on in the endeavor discussed noticeable changes in the water quality, seaweed variety and diseases. They recommended that these be made part of the systems for project monitoring.

Furthermore, a trading component will be adapted once the project begins. A lead proponent group will be identified to consolidate produce from the five seaweed producing municipalities. They will also implement a trading management system with its own sharing policy scheme.

Meanwhile, some fishermen who used to plant seaweeds expressed their interest to engage again in replanting because of the intervention from the DA-PRDP.

“With the DA-PRDP, I am assured of proper guidance in replanting seaweeds,” said Solomon Sanchez, who taught himself how to plant seaweeds. (Bexmae P. Jumao-as, Writer, RPCO 7)

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