Note: This blog post originated on RarePlanet, our online community inspiring conservation. It was written by Conservation Fellow Sheryll Tesch.
With a new found sense of pride, Boljoon fishermen ban together in an effort to increase future fish catch through actively promoting community support for no-take zones. Boljoon has two marine sanctuaries with no-take zones, which have officially existed since 2002. Without previous community support, however, these no-takes zones have not existed in practice. But recently fishermen are taking a stand to enforce rules and promote the importance of no-take zones in overall environmental health, as well as food security.
This initiative demonstrates the fishermen’s pride in their marine sanctuaries, Barangays Arbor and Granada. These marine protected areas (MPAs) were mainly created to protect and conserve marine life and fisheries for more sustainable fisheries for generations to come. Research and recreational scuba diving are the only permitted activities within the park, and scuba divers must pay a user fee for access. Fishers can only pass through the sanctuaries — without their motors on — to get to landing sites and other fishing grounds.
Even with these legal restrictions, studies and records have shown that intrusions into these no-take zones persist. Fishermen continue to hook and line fish in the sanctuary, gleaners are collecting shells in the shallows, and scuba divers are dodging entrance fees. Frustrated with these violations, locals, with the help of Rare fellows, are studying theses issues and acting on their results.
What the fishermen have discovered is that no-take zones were not being respected because people did not trust their potential benefits and did not feel any ownership over these MPAs. Since the establishment of the MPAs in 2002, community members have erroneously assumed that the marine sanctuaries were local government projects with which they should have little involvement. Nine years later, fisherman now feel it is time for change. They wish to instill pride in community members for the marine sanctuaries, so that rather than breach the sanctuary boundaries, they will protect them. This behavior change is the challenge that the Boljoon Rare Pride Campaign is addressing.
The Boljoon Rare Pride Campaign is geared towards educating Boljoanons in the benefits of no-take zones, and demonstrating how protecting and nurturing marine life, such as corals and fish, can ensure increased fish catch and can sustain their way of life for decades to come. The Pride Campaign targets many aspects of the community including, private businesses, the local government unit, resorts, fishers, gleaners, and residents, and encourages them to participate in educational activities for positive change. The new found pride in the Barangays Arbor and Granada marine sanctuaries will ensure their success as locals help to protect rather than fight these environmentally and economically crucial areas.
This campaign is part of Rare’s Program for Sustainable Fishing. Rare and its partners began by building on the Philippines extensive experience in no-take zones (NTZs) whilst identifying bright spots – the few places where community management of NTZs is effective and there are demonstrated benefits to both people and nature. We then built our plan around replicating the most effective practices at 12 new sites, with the ultimate goal making the bright spots the norm, rather than the exception in the Philippines.