The synergistic effect of big Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

January 7, 2021
Pelsy Barber Community Organiser

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“Why are you very supportive of big MPAs?”, I asked Kap (the elected village Captain) Boy while we were preparing the five billboards that we will put in strategic places around Silagon iMPA. Ever since the ideal MPA (iMPA) approach was introduced to members of Silagon barangay council, Kap Boy had been relentless in making follow-ups to the iMPA team, always giving updates, and always asking when we will plan the establishment Silagon iMPA.

Prior to the legalisation of Silagon iMPA, the barangay initiated the establishment of Silagon mangrove eco-park. Community members, themselves, donated bamboo poles for the construction of the 240-meter bamboo trail and viewing decks. But Silagon wanted to expand their protected area, thus, they formally endorsed the establishment of a 707-hectare MPA to the municipal council of Ajuy in July 2020.

Silagon iMPA boasts of a 283-hectare No-Take Area. They have 37 hectares of mangroves, 2 hectares of seagrass, and 7 hectares of corals.

Looking intently at the billboard frames, Kap Boy answered, “Having big MPA is like having big savings in a bank, you’ll get more from the interest of your savings.

We also saw from the start the synergistic effect of big, integrated MPAs. We can see many small fishers in the mangrove area, and they serve as additional attraction of the eco-park. Our MPA is helping us recover our resources and that will benefit us in the long run”.

I always hear from community members that their MPA is their fish bank. They invest their effort towards effective management of their MPA knowing that they will eventually reap the rewards. And this is true. But it was inspirational hearing Kap Boy talk about the synergy of different coastal and marine habitats integrated in the big MPA providing bigger and better conservation results.

Kap Boy pulled aside one of the billboard frames.

“What are you going to do with that?”, asked one of the fishers helping with the billboard installation.

“We should put one along the hi-way”, Kap Boy replied.

I looked at him. Barangay Silagon is about ten (10) kilometers from Ajuy town proper.

“We need to inform people that we have not only the eco-park, but we also have our iMPA. We also need to inform our neighbouring barangays that we are intent on protecting our MPA.” I looked at what was written in the billboards – Silagon iMPA: kadagatan ko, manggad ko, proteksyunan ko.  (My ocean, my wealth, I will protect).

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