The Provincial Agriculturist’s Office through the Fishery and Coastal Resource Management Division has been actively implementing activities that strengthens marine and coastal resources conservation and protection. During the first semester of 2022, PAGO-FCRM has conducted a biophysical assessment and monitoring of marine protected areas (MPA) in the province, and Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign in coastal communities, and capacity building activity for the Bantay Dagat members.
Between various dates in January, March and April of this year, a total of 33 MPAs were assessed by the Oriental Mindoro MPA and Fishery Law Enforcement Network which is spearheaded by the Provincial Government through PAGO-FCRM. The biophysical assessment and monitoring of MPAs is one of the key functions of the network as implemented by its technical arm the Oriental Mindoro Resource Monitoring (ORMT) Team. The monitoring team observe no sign of coral bleaching and increase in number of indicator fishes such as butterfly fishes, snappers, parrotfishes, and moray eels. However, the team also observed presence of Crown-of-thorns starfish, a large starfish which is considered as pest since it preys on coral polyps, making them a serious threat to the live coral population. Crown-of-thorns starfish were obrserved in Balatasan Fish Sanctuary in Bulalacao, Pili Fish Sanctuary in Pinamalayan, Sta. Theresa Fish Sanctuary in Gloria, and Buloc-Buloc Cove MPA in Naujan. An IEC campaign on this MPA sites with the MPA Management Councils and Bantay Dagat members were conducted on how to manage and control the Crown-of-thorns starfish.
On February 9, 2022, an IEC campaign on coastal community awareness was conducted in Barangay Tambong, Gloria. A total of 50 fisherfolks and community residents attended the said activity, which are mostly members of the newly organized Lakas Mangingisda ng Barangay Tambong (LAMBAT). The activity was also part of the reorganization of the Tambong Fish Sanctuary MPA.
Meanwhile, in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Malampaya Foundation, Inc. two Basic Fishery Law Training and Deputation were conducted in the municipalities of Pinamalayan and Gloria held on March 23-25, 2022 and April 6-8, 2022 respectively. A total of 57 volunteers were deputized and became members of the Bantay Dagat of their respective municipality.
Through these activities and the active partnership with Government Agencies, LGUs, Malampaya Foundation, Inc., Fisherfolk Associations, MPA Management Councils and other stakeholders, the conservation and protection of province’s marine and coastal resources is strengthened. MPAs in the province are consistently recognized as one of the best locally managed MPAs in the country, this includes the Agsalin Fish Sanctuary in Gloria, Ranzo Fish Sanctuary in Pinamalayan, and Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco-Park in Calapan City which are previous winners of the PARA EL MAR, a biennial national event that recognizes the best performing MPAs in the country.