|Summary Field Report: “Saving Philippine Reefs” Coral Reef Monitoring Expedition to the Calamianes Islands, Palawan, Philippines April 8-16, 2006
|Year of Publication
|White A, Maypa A, Tesch S, Stockwell B, Meneses A, White E, Martinez R
|Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Inc.
|The Saving Philippine Reefs Project of the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Inc. assessed the coral reef condition and updated the data of selected sites in the Calamianes Islands in Palawan with special consideration for the sites being assisted by the Fisheries for Improved Sustainable Harvest (FISH) Project of Tetra Tech, Inc. supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Information on the coral cover, other substratum, fish fauna, invertebrates and possible causes of coral damage were collected. This set of data is complimented by social information as indicated by the existing human activities observed within the MPA vicinity, a community perception survey and a management rating survey. Patterns of resource use and biophysical trends exhibited in surveyed sites with past data are provided.
Live hard coral (LHC) cover in the 10 surveyed sites ranges from fair to good. Culambuyan East (Busuanga) had the highest LHC with 61.3% both at the mean depth of 6.5 meters (scuba) and 3.2 meters (snorkel). Fish diversity (41.5 species/500m2) and density (17,674.5 individuals/500m2) were also the highest in the survey area. This reflects the long-term (10 years) effort of the private owner in guarding and protecting the site. The remaining sites surveyed showed lower fish densities and species richness which indicates high fishing pressure. Low total counts of butterflyfish and angelfish indicate heavy collection of aquarium species as confirmed by interviews and existing data. Some fish families (Acanthuridae, Carangidae, Balistidae and Haemulidae, Anthiinae, Amphiprion spp.) were consistently absent or were present in very small numbers. This may be due to the high frequency of aquarium and commercial fishing that still occurs in the area. However, some fish species that are not commonly found in other locations in the Philippines were sited in the survey area. Examples of these rare species are Altricthys spp. (Pomacentridae), Parachaetodon ocellatus (Chaetodontidae), and Bolbometopon muricatum (Pomacentridae).
The Calamianes group of Islands is indeed an important eco-region and harbors a highly diverse marine and coastal environment. Historically and to the present, evidence shows that these resources have been threatened by unregulated fishing and general resource exploitation. Moreover, this area is home to indigenous peoples Tagbanua tribe) whose lives have been and still are intimately associated with the environmental resources. A coordinated effort among all local governments and organizations within the Calamianes area is necessary for effective and lasting management results. Some recommendations are presented to guide and help improve MPA management and area-wide coral reef conservation initiatives.