January 20, 2017
A total of P19.5 million-worth of marine protected area sub-project proposals were approved by the Regional Project Advisory Board of the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) in Bicol on January 18, 2017 in Legazpi City.
These sub-projects, to be funded by a P287 million-worth grant from the PRDP-Global Environment Facility (GEF), one of the World Bank Group’s trust-funded programs, are projected to contribute to biodiversity conservation and strengthen the coastal and marine resource base in the region. The Donsol-Ticao-Burias Pass shared by the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate is one of the target GEF sites listed in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and is cited by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International (CI), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a key marine biodiversity area. It covers marine protected areas (MPAs) in the municipalities of Magallanes, Matnog, Pilar, and Bulan in Sorsogon and the Municipality of San Fernando in Masbate. The Donsol-Ticao-Burias Pass possesses globally threatened species including whale shark Rhincodontypus, hammerhead sharks, and extensive coral reef, mangrove, and sea grass ecosystem.
Among the MPA sub-project proposals approved by the RPAB were the P3.9 million-worth Community-Based Coastal Ecosystem Protection and Biodiversity Conservation in San Fernando, Masbate, the P4.3 million-worth Community-Based Coastal Ecosystem Protection and Biodiversity Conservation in Matnog, Sorsogon, the P3.3 million-worth Magallanes Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve Rehabilitation in Magallanes, Sorsogon, the P3.2 million-worth Rehabilitation of Butag Bay Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve in Bulan, Sorsogon and the P4.8 million-worth Bantigue Marine Reserve and Fish Sanctuary Protection and Reservation in Pilar, Sorsogon.
PRDP-Bicol Natural Resource Management Specialist Lorenzo L. Alvina underscored that the GEF sub-projects’ main purpose is to limit overfishing and conserve marine protected areas by providing support interventions to boost MPA management effectiveness from level 0 to level 2 (strengthened) or 3 (sustained) in the next three to five years.
According to Municipal Agriculturist Florizel M. Lim of San Fernando, Masbate, the implementation of the MPA sub-project will improve the fish catch in their coastal waters from an average of 2.2 kilograms per day to 5 kilograms per day within three years. He added that the PRDP-GEF sub-project will also promote community awareness about the significance of their cooperation in protecting the marine sanctuary.
PRDP-GEF has allocated P5 million for each targeted program area to support its coastal and marine resources conservation efforts by capacitating them in implementing MPA and microenterprise sub-projects.
The RPAB is an inter-agency multi-disciplinary team, chaired by the Regional Executive Director of the DA and composed of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government and Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council. Per PRDP National Project Advisory Board (NPAB) Resolution No. 3, series of 2016, BFAR was added as a member of the RPAB in regions with GEF sites, including Bicol. The advisory board is mandated to review and approve plans, feasibility studies, detailed engineering designs and program of works proposed for PRDP funding.
The PRDP is a six-year World Bank-assisted project being implemented by the Department of Agriculture to develop an inclusive, market-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector nationwide. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)