Responding to Fish Extirpations in the Global Marine Biodiversity Epicenter
The Philippines is considered to be the global epicenter of marine fish diversity, but also one of the most threatened due to human activities. Fish catch has been declining and several species have been severely depleted with declines as much as 88% since the 1950s. This and much more is the result of research in five marine Key Biodiversity Areas: Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur; Danajon Bank, Bohol; Verde Island Passage; Polillo Islands; and Honda Bay, Palawan.
In two years Haribon and Newcastle University, a research partner from the United Kingdom, conducted a study under the Darwin Initiative Project 19-020 with the support of the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK government. The team completed underwater surveys in these five sites, and presented the results of the fishers’ knowledge interviews and initial results of the underwater survey at the Philippine Marine Science Symposium last October 22-24, 2015.
Five species were common to fishermen in all sites of the study. These species were reported to be heavily depleted, and show increased vulnerability: green bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum), humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), African pompano (Alectis ciliaris), giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and mangrove red snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus).
Our statistical models showed that between the 1950s and 2014, fisher catch per unit effort (CPUE) of the bumphead parrotfish declined by 88%, humphead wrasse by 82%, african pompano by 66%, giant grouper by 74%, and mangrove red snapper by 64%.
At the site level, this undertaking facilitated the capacity of the People’s Organization Kadagatan Ampingan Pagmata Katawhan (KAAMPAKA). KAAMPAKA members participated in patrolling activities, especially women members, and led to the establishment of a rabbitfish social enterprise supplementing fishers’ incomes and marine protected area (MPA) management activities in Cortes, Surigao del Sur.
“Ang jackpot ngayon na huli ay malas na sa amin noon. Marami na rin nawawalang isda.” / The prize catch considered nowadays is just poor catch for us before. Also, many kinds of fish have been disappearing from catch. -Anonymous 83 year old fisher, Brgy. Catmon, San Juan, Batangas
To determine which fish species are threatened in five (5) key marine biodiversity areas, ascertain temporal abundance trends of fish species and groups, strengthen capacity in resource management in Lanuza Bay, reconcile conservation needs with sustainable livelihoods in Lanuza Bay, and make policy recommendations at local, national and international levels.
UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
April 2012 to December 2016
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