Explore Case Studies

Zaragosa Fish Sanctuary, Philippines

Zaragosa Fish Sanctuary, Municipality of Badian, Province of Cebu

Situated on the southwestern side of Cebu Province, this approximately 9.7 hectare protected area was declared in 1987. It was established by the Central Visayas Regional Project (CVRP) in 1987 by virtue of Municipal Ordinance 01-1987. It is managed by the Zaragosa-Badian Island Multi-Purpose Cooperative. They aspire to make the sanctuary a prime tourist destination in Badian. Other laws that cover the protection of this area are Municipal Ordinance 01-1989, Municipal Ordinance 09-2003, and Presidential Proclamation No. 1234 declaring the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape.

The fish sanctuary is managed by the Zaragosa-Badian Island Multipurpose Cooperative which is an organization consisting of local people in the area. Over the years, coastal resource management initiatives have been provided by several groups such as the local government of the Municipality of Badian, the Tambuyog Development Center (non-government organization), and the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Inc. Currently the Zaragosa-Badian Island Multipurpose Cooperative manages the user fees that are the sanctuary’s income. These fees help with the management costs and operations. The management rating of Zaragosa Fish Sanctuary is at Level 4 (MPA is sustained) with an accumulated total number of points of 31. The problems and issues that the community experiences in coastal resource conservation and management are weak law enforcement and lack of institutional support. The threats that the community perceives to their fishery resources are mainly commercial fishing intrusion and illegal and destructive fishing practices.

Habitats Conserved

The habitats and ecosystems being protected within the marine protected area of Zaragosa Fish Sanctuary are coral reefs, a rocky intertidal area, and a sandy area. The coral reefs in this area are fringing reefs interspersed with mostly branching and massive corals.

Conservation Values

In general, the community values the marine protected area as it is protecting the area for future generations. However, in reality, different stakeholders have different perspectives in the values of conservation the MPAs offer. For instance, the ordinary fisherman perceives an economic benefit through increased fish catch when considering the importance of fish sanctuaries. Biodiversity is also valuable and achieved through habitat protection and scientific interventions by non-government organizations and academic institutions doing research in the area.

Social value has developed with the emergence of the Zaragosa-Badian Island Multipurpose Cooperative as a strong stakeholder and cooperative community, supporting fishing. It has created a standard of conduct among community members (whether members or non-members) in terms of supporting conservation efforts. For community officers, the conservation value especially for marine ecology and biodiversity is always of utmost concern. For local government officials, the high conservation value of the marine sanctuary gives them a basis to get the needed support from the stakeholder communities at the next election.


The community members measure the impact of the sanctuary on the economic benefits gained. Increased fish catch in the adjacent fishing areas outside the fish sanctuary is a major indicator. However, there has been no formal evaluation made, only simple direct observation by community members and community officers. Community members report violations, which shows that the community is supportive of marine sanctuary initiatives.


The community is actively involved in law enforcement and reporting violators in the sanctuary. They have suggested that to improve management in the sanctuary there needs to be consistency in apprehending sanctuary violators and that sanctuary management requires more support from the local government unit of Badian. To date, the Municipality of Badian provides an honorarium for the guard that lives in the guardhouse and guards the fish sanctuary.

In a community-managed marine sanctuary, the burden of executing the management plan mainly lies with the community. Government support is extremely important during the stages of implementation or else there would be no successful marine protected area management. So far, government intervention has come in the form of marine protected area establishment, financial support, and the use of its powers in apprehending violators and prosecuting them.

Information provided by Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, CCEF, (and the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management, SUAKCREM) in 2009.