Surigao del Sur, Pacific Seaboard
Location and Significance. The Surigao del Sur target area covers the 15 coastal municipalities of Surigao del Sur facing the Pacific seaboard with a combined coastline of 486 kms. Surigao del Sur has 18 municipalities with a total land area of 4,552 sq kms.
The province is known largely for its logging and wood-processing industries. Fishing is a major source of livelihood in the coastal towns, with tuna accounting for some 4,000 metric tons of production (MEDCO 1998). Of the 15 FISH Project target municipalities, six are in the Project's focal area, namely, Cantilan, Carrascal, Cortez, Lanuza, Madrid and Tandag.
Hinatuan Bay is known to harbor five endangered species of sea turtles, including the Green Turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Olive Ridley (Philippine Daily Inquirer 2002). Sightings of Dugong in the dense seagrass areas have also been reported from as early as the 1950s, especially in the small islands.
Status of Coastal Resources. Known rich fishing grounds are in Carrascal Bay, Lanuza Bay, Lianga Bay, Hinatuan Bay, Bislig Bay and in the waters of Cortez town. Reef fisheries are abundant in municipal waters (MEDCO 1998). Coral reefs thrive in the bays and inlets protected from the Pacific ocean swells as shown in the map above. Mangrove forests are well-developed on the coast (especially in Carrascal) and support significant areas of wetland and nearshore fisheries, such as crustaceans and selected finfish.
A survey conducted by the FISH Project in 2004 (FISH Project 2005) suggests that Lanuza Bay retains a comparatively good fish composition, with commercially valuable species dominating fish catch using bottom-set longline. Two marine protected areas surveyed showed moderate to high species richness, averaging 41.5 species per 250 sq meters.
But while not as overfished as other known fishing grounds, Surigao del Sur does face threats from illegal fishing activities, particularly dynamite fishing and liba-liba (Danish seine). Conversion of mangroves to fishponds is common in Lanuza Bay. Sedimentation from upland erosion caused by past (and some still ongoing) logging activities, as well as tailings from mining operations in the area, has become a significant problem. Reef degradation caused by sedimentation has been noted in the bays of Lanuza, Lianga and Bislig. In some areas, sedimentation has also resulted in the degradation of mangrove ecosystems. Bislig has problems related to urbanization (waste disposal and improper use of foreshore areas).
Past and Current Initiatives. The Community-Based Resource Management Project supported by the World Bank through the Department of Finance is currently assisting eight municipalities to implement resource management plans through small loans and grants to the local government. The Local Government Support Program supported by the Canadian International Development Agency operates in Lanuza Bay using an ecosystems-based approach to planning. The Pacific Seaboard Research Project of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development is working with the Surigao del Sur Polytechnic State College to assist municipalities along Lianga Bay to implement a coastal management program.
Non-governmental organizations engaged in coastal management in the area include the Center for Empowerment and Resource Development in Hinatuan Bay, and GREEN Mindanao and Cantilan Baywatch Foundation Inc. in Lanuza Bay.
Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest (FISH) Project. 2005. Consolidated Report: Baseline Assessment of the Capture Fisheries and Marine Protected Areas (Reef Habitats) in the FISH Project's Focal Areas: Coron Bay, Danajon Bank, Lanuza Bay and Tawi-Tawi Bay. FISH Project of the Department of Agriculture, Cebu City, Philippines. 92 p.