Lanuza Marine Park Sanctuary:
Empowering People’s Organization in Managing Marine Protected Area
Sitting on the edge of the mountainous landscape of Lanuza is a watch towerthat serve as marine park and ranger station for BantayDagat. On some unlucky days, the BantayDagat team apprehends illegal encroachers from other municipalities who enter even the core zone of the marine protected area.
Of the 8,948-hectare municipal water of Lanuza, 111 hectares was declaredprotected. The no-take zone is comprised of 53 hectares while the buffer zone is 58 hectares. There are, at least, 400 small fisherfolks who are dependent in fishing.
Dwindling Fish Catch
In 1995, the local government of Lanuza observed low fish catch among local fisherfolks. Illegal fishing was rambling within the municipal waters.Liba-liba, a locally known method of commercial fishing, and dynamite fishing were the only few destructive methods of fishing rampant in the area.
The LGU launched the Lanuza Sagip Karagatan Program on the same year. There were series of dialogues conducted with the commercial fish owners. The LGU floated the idea of declaring a marine reserve but it was opposed by many locals.
Through the assistance of Volunteer Service Organization, a coastal resource assessment was conducted in 1998. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Provincial Fishery Office also conducted a survey that served as a basis of coverage of the marine park sanctuary.
After four years of ground work and lobbying, the Lanuza Marine Park Sanctuary was officially established on July 27, 2002 under Ordinance No. 9. Through the ordinance and coordination with the Philippine National Police, the LGU employed BantayDagat to enforce a 24-hour fishery law enforcement and seaborne patrolling.
The LGU regularly conducts fish catch monitoring by providing checklist to, at least, 100 fisherfolks in Lanuza. The fisherfolks list down the details of fish catch including the species of fish, number of kilos, place where the fish was caught, and the method of fishing used.
According to the LGU, since the establishment of the protected area and strict law enforcement, the coral reefs are starting to recover. The LGU spends approximately Php 1M annually to support the management costs in managing the MPA including enforcement, capacity building for the partner people’s organization, and other logistical needs to sustain the protection of the sanctuary.
Social Enterprise for MPA Management
In the ordinance that became the legal basis of the establishment of MPA, the LGU specifically included the co-management of the sanctuary with a community-based organization. In 2002, the Kapunungan ng LanuzahongMananagat (Association of Fisherfolks) was organized from the six coastal communities. The Kapunungan had a good start in managing the sanctuary until a faction was formed. There were members of organization who wanted to continue the protection in the area while there were some members who had vested interest in the sanctuary. In 2007, the management of the Lanuza Marine Park Sanctuary was handed back to the LGU.
After almost four years, the LGU saw the necessity to organize and empower another people’s organization who can manage the sanctuary. The NURSIHA Enforcement Team (abbreviation of three coastal communities including Nurcia, Sibahay, Habag) was established on September 2011 through the initiative of the LGU.
The NURSIHA becomes one of the most active people’s organizations in Lanuza Bay participating in and supporting the SMARTSeas PH Project. EleazarOrtuyo, Chairman of NURSIHA, said that aside from the capacity building organized by the LGU, they also benefit from the technical assistance being provided by the Project.
“Last 2016, we attended a business and financial planning workshop. We understand that the LGU’s capacity to provide us funds for the MPA will vary depending on the leadership of municipality. The profit from the sanctuary café is not also enough to fund the operation and enforecement. So, we need to have our own sustainable source of management fund,” Ortuyo shared.
During the workshop, Ortuyo and his fellow PO members learned the basic of business planning in the context of MPA management. They became motivated to establish their own social enterprise that would help them earn enough money to sustain the logistical needs of managing the sanctuary.
“Right after the workshop, I met with the other officers of the NURSIHA. We brainstormed and thought of ideas that we can submit as a proposal to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). They have this grant that can provide us seed capital to start a business. Later on, we came up with a rice retail business proposal,” said Ortuyo.
The rice retail business proposal is worth Php 214,000.00 plus the Php 60,000 counterpart of the organization. The proposal was approved during the first quarter of this year. It is one of the first social enterprises supported by the SMARTSeas PH Project that was successfully funded by another national government agency.
“Once we start earning with the rice retails business, we will ensure that the profit will go back to the MPA management cost as agreed with the SMARTSeas and the LGU. Although, the LGU will continue to support us, we would like to ensure that even if there will be change in leadership, we can sustain the protection of the marine park sanctuary.” Ortuyo said.
The NURSIHA Enforcement Team does not stop here. Through the facilitation of SMARTSeas PH in lanuza Bay, another business proposal is in the pipeline, awaiting DOLE’s approval, and hopeful that their social enterprise will become the backbone of their MPA management in the years to come.
Case Story by Rizza Sacra
SMARTSeas PH Project