Basdiot Fish Sanctuary, Philippines
Basdiot Fish Sanctuary, Municipality of Moalboal, Province of Cebu
The Basdiot Fish Sanctuary is locally and also popularly known by divers in Moalboal as Tongo Point. Barangay Basdiot is a focal point for tourism, through its diving, which provides income for many locals who provide diving services or have diving shops in Panagsama Beach, Moalboal. The first local law to protect the area was passed through Municipal Ordinance 9A-1998. The main reason for establishing the fish sanctuary was to ensure favorable breeding grounds for fish, where there is protection from fishing and disturbance through regulatory measures.
The Basdiot Fish Sanctuary is 4.17 hectares and is managed by the Basdiot Fisherman’s Association, which is an organization of local people. Other organizations assisting in the area are the municipal government of Moalboal, the United State Agency for International Development, through Ecogov and SCOTIA projects, and the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation. There is currently a user fee system that is being implemented in this sanctuary, which also covers other surrounding municipal waters of Moalboal. The Basdiot Fisherman’s Association receives a 40 percent share of the total user fees that are collected. Thirty percent is allocated to the Barangay government of Basdiot, and 30 percent to the municipal government of Moalboal.
Major violations made in the Basdiot Fish Sanctuary recently have been the non-payment of user fees and coral gathering in the sanctuary. To date, the marine protected area management rating system of the Basdiot Marine Sanctuary is at Level 4: the MPA is sustained and is very good. The accumulated number of points for this MPA was 39 points.
The main habitat and ecosystem being protected in the Basdiot Fish Sanctuary is the coral reef. The management zones in the area cover a 4.1 hectare core zone which is strict no take zone. There is also a surrounding 3 hectare buffer zone, where the only human activity allowed is hook and line fishing.
The value that the local fishermen put on the protected resources is mainly economic since they expect the marine sanctuaries to improve fish populations and fish catch, which will in turn, improve their economic situation. For divers, the conservation values they put on the reefs are mainly focused on leisure and tourism. As for the businesses relying on diving tourism, the better the diving spot is, the more revenue is generated for them, and hence the more divers attracted into the area. The municipal government of Moalboal also attaches high worth to the economic value of the resources, as they attract tourism and investments into the Municipality of Moalboal, which improve the local economy.
Communities have expressed the view that the management of the marine sanctuary has ranged between average to good, and have said that most of the activities they observe in the sanctuary area are snorkeling and scuba diving by tourists. They have reported that user fees are going to the Barangay government of Basdiot, the municipal government and the Basdiot Fisherman’s Association, but they still feel more community interventions are needed to increase local community support and improve awareness and education about the marine protected areas in Moalboal. Divers and tourists are aware of the immediate impacts as they are able to observe the reef using scuba diving equipment, and view the marine protected area as positive in protecting this habitat.
Overall, the municipal government of Moalboal has been supportive in the efforts to set up marine protected areas in its area of jurisdiction. In fact, Moalboal alone already has four marine protected areas, all established and protected by municipal ordinance. These marine protected areas are currently being expanded to increase conservation gains in the area. However, there are still weaknesses in the user-fee system collection, due to multiple resource use conflicts, which the diving community and the local government are trying to resolve. The user fee system in Moalboal is unique since one payment by a tourist covers municipal waters and is not specific to one marine sanctuary. Another issue that the communities have identified is the need for more education to increase community awareness and support for the MPAs. They have also said that there is relatively weak law enforcement that still needs to be strengthened.
Information provided by Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, CCEF, (and the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management, SUAKCREM) in 2009.