Batangas Fishing Community Benefits From Mangrove ReforestationCatch of the Week
Volunteers and community members planted 1,000 mangrove seedlings in “Ang Pulo” (The Island) in Barangay Balibago, Calatagan, Batangas and join in the coastal clean-up and pledge signing.
The activity was part of the Coral Triangle Day celebrations on 9 June 2013.
The Philippine Coral Triangle Initiative National Coordinating Committee (NCC) organized the activity.
It was in late 2009 when the Calatagan Mangrove Development Association (CALMADA) headed by founding president Virgilio Enriquez started a mangrove nursery in Bgy. Balibago located at the mainland.
We aim to reforest at least give more hectares until the next three years. We will do this until we get old as a legacy to our children who will also fish in the area, Enriquez said.
Calatagan, a small fishing community in Batangas province, is an example of how engaging and creating environment stewards in the community can lead to successful marine conservation programs.
Fishers and coastal communities are expected to reap the rewards of the mangrove reforestation project including bigger fish catches and ecotourism.
This complemented the initiative of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) then headed by SK president Hannah Esguerra to reforest “Ang Pulo,” a small island off the coast, which used to be lush with mangroves until the 1990s.
Massive cutting of mangroves occurred between 1990s and mid-2000s when the community cut down mangroves for charcoal. Coupled with unsustainable and illegal fishing practices, this led to dwindling fish catch.
People will stay for hours into the sea just to get half a kilo of fish, mostly juveniles, Esguerra said.
Between 2009 and 2012, CALMADA supplied over 120,000 mangrove seedlings to reforest at least 500 hectares of the Calatagan coastline in Bgy. Balibago and “Ang Pulo.” As a result, the coastline of is now hailed as a model for mangrove reforestation in the country.
Members of CALMADA together with the Youth Environment Society (YES) of Balibago, Calatagan Eco-Savers School Association, and volunteers from development partners, student organizations, and the municipal government also joined the activity.
Director Mundita Lim of the Coastal and Marine Management Office of the Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau and Jessica Muñoz of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources represented the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture, respectively. These two agencies serve as the co-chairs of the NCCC.
Lim said she was glad to see young people in the group and volunteers who brought their families along. She also acknowledged the efforts of the municipal government and CALMADA in training the youth. “It is good that they are being prepared to be the next generation of environmental stewards,” she said.
The building blocks for success of the project were active community participation and efficient is using financial aid for core programs, said Dr. Luis Bravo, Chief of the Coastal and Marine Management Division, DENR-CALABARZON Region.
The barangay forms a very important part of coastal and marine rehabilitation led by communities. When they have the know-how and the commitment, it is a good partner for national and international donors to funnel budget for model programs that allow for replication in other areas. The story of Bgy. Balibago in Calatagan is a shining example of that, Dr. Bravo said.
CALMADA has signified their life-long commitment to protect the mangroves. They participated in the awareness campaigns organized by DENR before attending the mangrove rehabilitation trainings. These helped fisher folks in the community realize the cause of their dwindling fish catch.
CALMADA set up a cooperative to handle the sales of the mangrove seedlings (P10 each), which they market to other areas. Members also make sure to teach the proper way of planting the materials to make sure they will not be washed away by the waves.
Conservation International also provided about half a million pesos to CALMADA, including the construction of a boardwalk from the nursery out to the sea to help the community set up a mangrove nursery.
In less than four years, the group has grown from 30 initial members to more than a hundred and they have reforested about 500 hectares of the mangrove along the coastal community.
Fishers are also reaping the rewards of reforestation. They have a bigger catch in just a matter of hours, plus they make money from ecotourism by educating guests on the community’s experience in mangrove reforestation.
By engaging the community as stewards of the environment, Dr. Bravo said that they took it upon themselves to continue the project that integrates the rehabilitation of three connected ecosystems: mangroves, seagrass, and the coral reef.
We aim to reforest more hectares in the next three years. We will do this until we get old as a legacy to our children who will also fish in the area, Enrique said.