I n an effort to protect marine resources the people of Tamisan established a fish sanctuary. With once again abundant resources and increased catch the fisherfolk of Barangay Tamisan are showing how the downtrends can be reversed. Their success have encouraged other LGUs and coastal communities to be just as determined in managing their marine resources.The 17-hectare Tagaliling Marine Protected Area is now poised to revolutionize how MPAs should function with the installation of a biodiversity, water quality, weather and seismic activity monitoring system.
The people of Tamisan may not have heard of the American Indian proverb that tells us that we, the present generation, only borrowed the earth from our children must be subconsciously engrained in their hearts and minds because they immediately tell us that their efforts to protect and manage the resources is for the next generation.
Barangay Tamisan is a coastal barangay located in the eastern portion of Mati, Davao Oriental. It is bordered by Barangays Lawigan in the South, Dahican in the North, Bobon in the East, and bounded by Pujada Bay in the West. The nearest urban center is twenty-two (22) kilometers away could be reached by public utility jeepneys (PUJs), motorcycles and pump boats. Oral tradition says that an old couple asked for a drink and found it tam-is or sweet, thus the name of the community.
In Sept. 2004, through the support of the USAID-Coastal Resource Management Project, the DOSCST conducted the PCRA and the information gathered showed that the establishment of an MPA is a viable option in the area. In 2005,as initiated by Giovanni Lazaro, who later became a member of the barangay council, the council took cognizance of the importance of the proposed fish sanctuary. Eventually, the council enacted a local ordinance establishing a fish sanctuary in 2008 that also laid down prohibited acts and the corresponding penalties.
In 2009 a barangay ordinance (Bgy. Ord. No. 4 series of 2005 Mar. 16) prohibited the use of air compressor in fishing operations, the use of scare (tabog and tapsay), cutting of seagrass, destroying corals and cutting mangroves; with corresponding fines as follows: 1st to 3rd offense – P500, 1,000 & 1,500 respectively. These ordinancesprovide legal support to the efforts of the community to manage the marine resources.
In recent months fishers do not have to go far from the shores since they can easily catch fish in the peripheries of the MPA. Even the cast net, which is not an efficient gear could catch 10kgs for a day. This is a far cry from the fish catch of a half kilo for a day’s fishing in 2005 to 2007.
Joining Hands to Protect the Marine Treasures
With the implementation of the ADB-ICRMP, the DENR, BFAR and LGU personnel conducted an MPA site assessment in September 23-26, 2008, with the results used as the basis for the enhancement of the MPA. With the enhancement, the community took the opportunity to increase the size of the MPA. Initially, the city government of Mati provided marker buoys that the DENR-ICRMP enhanced in 2011.
The ICRMP Project came in with technical assistance in three key areas including Integrated Coastal Resource Managementplanning, capability enhancement, and technical assistance in the formulation of MPA ordinance and formulation of MPA management plans.
The assistance of the Davao Oriental State College of Science & Technology (DOSCST) began with the conduct of the Participatory Coastal Resource Assessment and it continues with its research and extension program focused on resource management especially that the ICRMP and the Governor’s Office of Davao Oriental facilitated to establish as the Regional ICRM Center (RIC).
The City Government Responds
During the early stages of the MPA, the City Governmentof Mati provided materials for the installation of 150 pieces of marker buoys and a motor boat engine in recognition of the community’s efforts towardspeace and orderstabilization and resource management.
The city government of Mati, through the SangguniangPanglungsodprovided legislative supportwith the enactment of City Ordinance No. Series of 2011,sponsored by SP Member Alan Andrada, establishing the Marine Protected Area after the community adopted the Tagaliling MPA Management Plan.
Forging Links with Ateneo de Davao University and
Ateneo de Davao University in a partnership with Smart Communications Inc.hold a competition among engineering students and one of the winners was a fish detection gadget using underwater cameras.Smart, as Smart Communications Inc. is often called, funded the field test and came up with improvementsand later on dubbed the results as a “Fish Density Monitoring System”.
In a meeting with the Regional Technical Director of the DENR XI, RTD Manuel Isip suggested to theSmart Communications Inc. to put to use the gadget in Davao Oriental where ICRMP has established a number of Marine Protected Areas. Smart conducted a field visit and found the Tagaliling MPA in Tamisan, Mati City as the most appropriate site considering the initiatives undertaken and the strong collaboration of the community and the local council. Fortunately, when they visited Tamisan, the Barangay Council was in session and allowed Ms.HaydeeBernabe of Smart to present the project concept. The barangay captain, Hon. Ludivico M. Baquiao,together with the council committed to support the project since it was parallel to their efforts in managing the marine resources.
With consultations progressing the project eventually became known as the “Marine Biodiversity Monitoring System” that consisted of underwater monitors linked to the internet. However both ADDU and Smart decided to add gadgets that monitored the weather, water quality and seismic activitiessince climate change has become a major concern. Mati City and adjacent areas are also part of a fault line system and incorporating seismic activity monitor a necessity. The project, which is a first of its kind in the Philippines, will certainly highlight the Tagaliling MPA in terms of innovations in management. The system is set to be launched by the second quarter of 2012.
Tamisan recently made major moves in the establishment of its eco-tourism project dubbed as a “Reef Discovery, Culinary and a Nature Village Destination” to be implemented by the Tamisan MPA Managers and Fisherfolk’s Association of TAMPAFAS. The main feature is a rich reefand seagrass area where some 17 reef rangers are poised to serve as guide snorkelers after completing the 6-day Reef Rangers Training. During the awarding of the eco-tourism funds last March 27, 2012, TAMPAFAS received an initial delivery of 25 sets of fins, mask and snorkel and the personal floating device that is required to conduct a snorkelling tour.
During the launching the City Mayor Mati committed to provide Tamisan with a brand new PhP140 thousand boat to support enforcement and other projects of the community. The ecotourism package worth PhP420 thousand will not only take tourists to view the bounty of the sea, taste the unique local food but alsosavor nature in the high grounds with a breath-taking view of Pujada Bay and the nearby environs.
Another project which is already in its start-up stage is the PhP370thousand native chicken raising project funded by ICRMP and facilitated by the DA-BFAR. The project will provide supplemental income to TAMPAFAS and surely, this will support the effort of Tamisan as a culinary destination. And guests will always have native chicken dishes whenever they so desire.
Other Community Initiatives
In Sitio Pangi of Barangay Tamisan, the Pangig Mangrove Planters Association manages a 9-hectare mangrove reforestation and assisted natural regeneration project. Since mangrovesserve as nursery grounds for fish, shrimp, shells, and other marine life and mangrove forests are crucial to the preservation of marine biodiversity the mangrove management project clearly supports the adjacent Tagaliling MPA.
Clearly,neigboring areas such as Barangay Lawigan are also enjoying the benefits from Tamisan MPA where the fishers note an increase in fish catch within a couple of years.
The MPA in Tamisanalso provides enhanced protection to migratory species in conjunction with other MPAs in the area, specifically Luban that is located in the westernmost part of Mati. With the enhancement of MPAs in Luban, Pujada Island, Dawan-Mamali, Lanca and Cabuaya and the establishment of the proposed MPA in Lawigan an MPA network will be created providing for a greater impact in the over all health of the resources and enhanced biodiversity in the area.
So where does Tamisan intend to go?
With these recent developments Tamisan expects more visitors even as it is already a regular itinerary of nature enthusiasts and as a site where researches are conducted.
Kagawad Lazaro is pensive, he recalls the times when there were not enough support. When those who opposed the MPA tried to threaten the use of the vote to topple and dissuade those who support the MPAs. Still, it didn’t happen because once they felt the benefits of the MPA,the community gave their full support.
Fisher DaiwanLawani, 56, enjoys a good catch with the marked increase in the fish and shellfish populations brought about by the Tagaliling MPA. On his night trip to catch squid, Daiwan relishes the quiet times he has during moonlit nights as around twenty dugong frolic near him as if he didn’t exists. This is another indicator that indeed the areas in the vicinity of Tamisan are once again abundant.
The community in Tamisan are pleased that they worked on the establishment of the MPA and that they formulated the MPA management plan. The plan facilitated the achievement of the interventions they wanted for the MPA and the surrounding environs. Projects such as the Marine Biodiversity Monitoring System, eco-tourism and native chicken production have started and they are expecting more as they prepare proposals for the giant clam stock enhancement, sea hare and sea cucumber ranching and coral transplantation projects inside the MPA.
Tamisan is aiming for the top-awards as one of the most successful MPAs in the country. And with the drive that the people in Tamisan have, this will be a reality.