PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN FUND
Monday, December 18, 2017
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  • Community-Centered Conservation, Philippines, Inc. (C3-Philippines, Inc.)

     

    PROJECT TITLE
    Protecting the Dugongs and Busuanga's Marine Habitats 

    LOCATION
    All coastal barangays of Busuanga, Palawan

    DURATION
    2 years

    BENEFICIARIES
    Municipal Fishers (men and women), community organizations, children, fish wardens, LGUs and other private and public institutions 

    BACKGROUND
    The dugong (dugong dugon) is one of the Philippines’ most threatened marine mammals. Dugongs once populated the islands of the country. Today, the only remaining habitats for dugongs are in Calauit Island, Barangay Buluang and New Quezon in Busuanga, Palawan. Busuanga is considered as the dugongs’ final stronghold in the Philippines, the only area most promising for the survival of this species.

    While the law prohibits people from capturing dugongs, there are still incidents where dugongs are hunted for their meat mostly through the use of nets and dynamite. The most significant threat to the survival of the species is their unintended catch, called “bycatch”, in fishing nets, followed by the degradation of seagrass beds, their main source of food.

    ACTIVITIES
    USAID, through the Philippine-American Fund, supports Community-Centered Conservation Philippines’ (C3PH) commitment to protect the dugongs in Busuanga and its surrounding islands. The project invests in research on the dugongs’ current population, their habitat, food requirements and life patterns. Gathered information is used as advocacy materials for the local government units and communities. The goal is to create a safe haven for dugongs, which is possible if Busuanga waters will be declared as a critical habitat for the mammals.

    Since fishing is the major livelihood in the area, the project involves local communities in various advocacy sessions, which encourages them to prevent the hunting and capturing of dugongs. C3PH also works with fisher folk, seaweed and pearl farm owners in the 39 barangays in Busuanga. They are undergoing trainings in industry best practices that prevent dugong bycatch, as well as procedures for reporting and safe release in cases of a bycatch.

    UPDATES AS OF MARCH 2017
    A series of community education and awareness building sessions on dugong was conducted in six barangays involving a total of 80 participants (34 percent women). The participants were provided with monitoring notebooks where they can record dugong sightings. C3PH also visited 12 barangays and provided manuals on marine mammals stranding response and field guides on marine mammals. These reading materials will strengthen knowledge of the Bantay Dugong and other community members on the conservation of dugong and other marine mammals in the area.

    Two workshops on dugong conservation and marine mammal stranding response were conducted, involving 37 representatives (16 percent women) from the local government units and partner agencies. Participants were trained on stranding response and rescue of dugong. It also enabled the team to organize teams of first responders throughout the municipality of Busuanga. The training was led by experts from Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network.