2014 Saving Philippines Reefs Tubbutaha Expedition
Four Unico Conservation Foundation members joined this year’s expedition onboard the Discovery Fleet to survey Tubbutaha Reef Natural Park. Since our previous trip the Discovery Fleet underwent a major makeover, with great results. The boat was completely transformed into a state of the art liveaboard while still retaining its charm and character. What hadn’t changed was the spectacular service and support crew, and it was great to see some friendly faces.
Leaving from Puerto Princesa, the expedition team headed out for the 5 day expedition to what is considered one of the top ten diving sites in the world. Consisting of two atoll reefs Tubbutaha was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 and is the best regional example of a well-protected, no fishing, marine park that contains a diverse variety of fish, corals and other animals in clear and pollution free waters.
The purpose of the trip was to determine the coral reef condition within the park and several surrounding reefs in comparison to monitoring data collected in previous years. Reef surveys using prescribed methods during morning and afternoon dives and snorkels were undertaken to collect a range of information including; cover of living coral and fish species diversity per unit area and number of indicator species per unit area (e.g. butterflyfish, giant clams, lobsters, Triton shells, Crown-of-thorns seastars and others).
It was an absolute privilege being able to dive a range of spectacular sites that feature; colourful shallow reefs with massive schools of trevally and sharks; sheer rock walls that plummet into the depths and attract the impressive whale shark. No two dives were the same, each revealing something new and exciting.
We can’t thank our partners and team at the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation enough for organising th expedition which was an enormous success. All the data collected on this trip is being summarised in a report and disseminated to all interested parties in the Philippines and elsewhere. It will help guide and improve management efforts, indicate effectiveness of protection from illegal fish and give us all an indication of the condition of the Tubbutaha Reef Natural Park, Sulu Sea, Philippines. Stay tuned for the results.
Check out our video from the trip: 2014 Tubbutaha Expedition
Check out of gallery from the trip: 2014 Tubbutaha SPR Expedition
2013 Saving Philippines Reef Expedition Report – Moalboal and Badian, Cebu
The report from our hard efforts on the 2013 expedition has now been published. The coral reefs surveyed in Moalboal and Badian show that live hard coral in the majority of the MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) decreased in 2013. Anecdotal survey evidence suggests that this decrease may have been due to the magnitude 6.7 earthquake and typhoons experienced. Considering these factors, the decline in living hard coral in most sites surveyed is modest and the reefs monitored show a good level of resilience over time.
Target fish density and species richness within MPAs where strict enforcement is present, appears to be improving overtime as compared to outside where heavy fishing pressure is evident. This is also illustrated by the higher species richness inside MPAs compared to the adjacent areas where little or no enforcement is being implemented. Target fish biomass has increased overtime inside the MPAs. A clear picture is presented of the benefits of well protected no-fishing areas as represented by the small MPAs in Moalboal and Badian by the increasing biomass of fish.
Although Moalboal and Badian Municipalities have been very active in coastal resource management since the establishment of Saavedra Marine Sanctuary and Zaragosa Island Fish Sanctuary, there are still challenges of sustaining efforts to enforce the law against illegal activities, strengthen MPA management bodies in other MPAs and deal with growing tourism demands. Recommendations to further enhance conservation of the area were made.
For a copy of the full report: 2013 SPR Report – Moalboal and Badian, Cebu
Net Effect Project
There are other organisations working to protect the unique marine environment in the Philippines while helping communities build more sustainable economies. The team at Interface Carpets recently developed an innovative program called Net Effect™ which connects remote fishing economies with the global manufacturing community to help protect an environment at risk. How? Local communities collect old and discarded fishing nets which is transformed into stylish carpet. It’s the first step in creating a truly restorative loop in carpet tile production, cleaning up oceans and beaches while also creating financial opportunities for some of the poorest people in the world.
Check out a video on the program here: Net Effect
For more information: Net Effect Program