The Saving Philippine Reefs Expedition assessed the biophysical conditions of the marine sanctuaries (MPAs) in Southeast Cebu in March 2010. Surveys were conducted in seven out of the twenty one MPAs that are located in the Southeast Cebu cluster and updated the data from previous surveys.
Living hard coral (LHC) cover ranged from fair to good (29.4±10.9% to 55.0±5.1%). Six of the seven MPAs surveyed are in fair condition (25- 50% LHC) (Daanlungsod-Guiwang, Granada, Gawi, Sumilon Is., Pasil and Colase). Four sanctuaries (Arbor, Gawi, Colase and Pasil) showed no significant change overtime. LHC in Daanlungsod- Guiwang decreased significantly from 2005 to 2010 while in Granada and Sumilon Is., LHC increased significantly from 2002 to 2010 and 1992- 2010 respectively. Arbor MPA had the highest LHC (55.0±5.1%) followed by Gawi (48.8±8.7%) and Sumilon sanctuary (47.8%±3.7%). Among all sites surveyed, LHC is stable and increasing on average. No signs of coral bleaching were seen.
Target fish densities ranged from very poor to poor both inside and outside of MPAs while densities inside sanctuaries were generally higher than outside. Four sites had very low fish densities (Arbor, Granada, Gawi and Colase) and three sites were low (Daanlungsod- Guiwang, Sumilon and Pasil). Target fish density in Arbor, Granada and Pasil increased significantly overtime while Sumilon and Colase decreased marginally. Furthermore, Daanlungsod-Guiwang and Gawi showed no significant changes after 8 years of monitoring. Daanlungsod-Guiwang had the highest target density (144.2±82.4 fish/500m2) followed by Pasil (143.6± fish/500m2) and Sumilon (135.0±?fish/500m2). Despite relatively low fish density in all areas, the marked differences between inside and outside shows the benefits of protection and the potential to improve.
Target fish diversity was very low in four of the seven sites. The remaining three are slighty more diverse. Pasil recorded the highest mean target species at 18.3±2.9 spp/500m2 followed by Sumilon Is. (16.0±2.6 spp/500m2) and Daanlungsod-Guiwang (13.5±0.8spp/500m2). Target species richness in Sumilon showed a significant increase from 1999 to 2010 and correlates with improved management.All seven sites have a very low biomass of target fish. Pasil recorded the highest (57.4±13.8 kg/500m2) followed by Sumilon (35.8±18.1 kg/500m2) and Gawi (22.4±18.1 kg/500m2). Fish biomass inside all the MPAs was higher than outside.
In 2010, MPAs in Southeast Cebu generally showed improvement since the beginning of their establishment (around year 2002, Sumilon in 1974). Such results correlate with the efforts of the local municipal governments and their communities to establish and protect small MPAs to improve fish catch and to attract scuba diving tourists to the area. Presently the Southeast Cebu Coastal Resource Management Council supports the development of a MPA network which is encouraging the use of improved management techniques and the evaluation of MPA sizes, representation of habitats and activities allowed in the vicinity of the no-take sanctuaries in an effort to improve overall effectiveness. Specific recommendations are included herein.
Southeast Cebu Province has been very active in coastal resource management since the entry of CCE Foundation into the area in 2002. However, there is still the challenge that lies in sustaining efforts to enforce the law against illegal and commercial fishing, strengthen MPA management bodies, and manage the growing volume of tourism. Southeastern Cebu, however, looks forward to a bright future in protected area management with the strong support that it is receiving from the provincial government and the SCCRMC cluster. Recommendations to further enhance conservation of Southeastern Cebu MPAs are:
- Continue monitoring for sustained management;
- Build capacity for improved coral reef and MPA monitoring;
- Need for more and larger MPAs;
- Need to improve coastal fisheries law enforcement; and
- Increase diver, boat operator, and visitor education.