marine-themed informational flash animations
Extracted and adapted from “Philippine Coastal Management Guidebook Series No. 1: Coastal Management Orientation and Overview,” published in 2001 by DENR, DA-BFAR and DILG through the Coastal Resource Management Project of DENR and USAID. The complete series can be downloaded here.
With 7,100 islands and 18,000 km of shoreline, the Philippines is a maritime nation, dependent to a major extent on a healthy coastal environment. The Philippine archipelago is endowed with ecologically diverse and economically important coastal resources such as coral reefs, mangroves, estuarine areas, beaches, and a variety of fisheries. Philippine coastal areas and seas have served as the lifeblood of communities near and far for hundreds if not thousands of years. Managed properly, these resources can continue to benefit the Philippine economy and the well-being of many coastal residents (White and Cruz-Trinidad 1998).
Coastal resources provide much of what supports daily life: food, livelihood, economic development, clean water, and even the air we breathe. Healthy coral reefs may support fish harvests of up to 30 t/km2/year (Alcala 1981, 1988; White and Savina 1987; Alcala and Russ 1990; Christie and White 1994). Mangrove areas provide a wide range of benefits including clean water, food, medicines, and shoreline protection. These coastal habitats along with seagrass beds support the valuable multi-species fisheries in the Philippines.
Despite these important direct and indirect benefits to humans, coastal resources in the Philippines are being severely degraded (White and Cruz-Trinidad 1998).
The coastal zone is legally defined to extend 1 km inland from the shoreline at high tide and to seaward areas covered within the 200-m isobath. Of the areas seaward of the low water mark, the marine waters out to 15 km are under local government jurisdiction, while the national jurisdiction extends from 15 km from the shore up to 200 nautical miles. The extent and importance of coastal resources and coastal areas in the Philippines are highlighted by a few facts:
Over the last 20 years, coastal areas in the Philippines have come under increasingly severe threats due to human activities. More than 75 percent of the coral reefs in the Philippines have been degraded from human activity (Figure 1) (Chou et al. 1994; Gomez et al. 1994). Mangrove forests are declining at a rate of 2,000 ha/year with only 120,000 ha of mangrove forests remaining today from the 160,000 ha 20 years ago and 450,000 at the turn of the century (DENR 1995; White and de Leon 1996) (Figure 2). Municipal fisheries production has been relatively stagnant for the last 20 years with recent and noticeable declines annually since 1991 (BFAR 1995, 1997) (Figure 3).
Coastal ecosystems and their natural ability to produce are being overexploited to the point of causing permanent damage to them. This means that future generations will have fewer resources and the natural productivity of the ecosystems will be significantly reduced. To continue overexploiting coastal resources at the current rate is analogous to letting termites eat the foundation of a house. The effects would be tolerable and not noticed initially, but one day the house would collapse! One day our fisheries will also collapse unless we manage them and their coastal habitats effectively.
The coastal situation in the Philippines mirrors global trends where unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, and habitat destruction are resulting in significant, if not irreversible, loss of the ocean and coastal life support systems. In 1989, the world catch of marine life reached a record high, 89 million tons, which has since declined (Weber 1993; McGinn 1998).
Globally, the largest sources of marine pollution come from the land in the form of runoff and air pollution (Weber 1993). The effects of global climate change from burning of fossil fuels are now evident in tropical environments through a slight warming of marine waters. Coral reefs may be the early warning indicators of this global climate change, being very sensitive to small changes in temperature. In 1998, record high sea surface temperature resulted in mass coral bleaching around the world. Repeat events are predicted in the future. Tropical coastal ecosystems may be the most vulnerable to these global trends because of the narrow temperature range to which corals and other organisms are adapted. Without management, as population grows, human impacts on these fragile ecosystems will get worse – the world population reached 6 billion in 1999 with little evidence that the rate of growth will slow down.
Coastal areas in the Philippines are experiencing:
The Philippines holds a bleak picture of its coastal resources, with much to do to reverse current trends. In order to sustain and eventually improve the benefits we all derive from coastal resources, significant commitments and investments must be made by coastal communities, local government units (LGUs), national government agencies (NGAs), and assisting organizations to change from the current self-destructive course to one of conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources. Furthermore, these efforts and initiatives must be coordinated and harmonized to achieve the goal of sustaining these benefits for future generations.
Coastal management provides the tools for slowing and hopefully reversing the negative impacts of uncontrolled use of these resources. Coastal management also provides the essential processes for integration of all sectoral, spatial, temporal, policy, and institutional components necessary to achieve the goal of sustainable development (Sorensen 1997).
We must look at the larger picture of what forces are affecting our coastal environment before we can progress in managing people and resources for sustainable uses (Figure 4). Sustainable development and use of natural resources can be very elusive if we do not fully understand the natural limits of the resource systems.
affecting the Philippine coastal
Legally, by virtue of the Local Government Code of 1991, much of the area within 15 km from the shoreline has been reserved for the use of municipal fishers. In addition, the Fisheries Code of 1998 reserves up to 10 km of municipal waters for the exclusive use of municipal fishers. Nevertheless, many use conflicts between municipal and commercial fishers still persist within the 10- and 15-km limits.
While commercial fishing is strictly prohibited within municipal waters by national laws, intrusion of large, highly efficient, commercial fishing vessels is prevalent. One result of the conflict between the commercial and municipal sectors is decreasing catches. Catch from the municipal sector is being overtaken by catch from the commercial and aquaculture sectors; meanwhile, municipal fishers are growing in number.
The willingness of fishers to continue fishing when catches are declining indicates the relative lack of alternatives and the small value fishers place on their own time (Añonuevo 1989; Trinidad et al. 1993). If properly implemented, reserving the use of municipal waters by municipal ordinances that are enforced serves as a strategy for restricting access, reducing fishing pressure, and improving the condition of municipal fisheries for more fishers for a longer time. Local management regimes that clarify and limit user rights will improve sustainability of fisheries.
An increasingly common situation is the displacement of fishing communities for land reclamation projects. These projects are removing large areas of coastal habitat, such as seagrass beds and mangrove forests, thus permanently eliminating nursery grounds for municipal fisheries without mitigation measures.
growth and poverty
More than 60 percent of the Philippine population lives within what are considered coastal areas because all major cities and most large industries are located close to the sea. In addition, the most productive natural ecosystems in the country occur on the coast and attract and support many people. Coastal municipalities and cities are facing increasing environmental degradation from pollution, reclamation and conversion of fragile habitats, and overuse of natural resources.
The most significant challenge is to limit population growth so that gains from development and environmental management are not eroded or reversed by the increasing pressure of too many people. The present experience is that as the population density increases, the quality of life and the environment declines for the average person living in a coastal area.
Respect for and obeyance of the law needs to be promoted and become accepted as an important means to improve the status and productivity of coastal ecosystems. Fisheries will improve significantly if illegal fishing is stopped! Public education and better enforcement are two strategies that have proven to be effective. Without swift, painful, and public enforcement of laws, the destruction will continue.
Although it is not common knowledge, the foreshore areas from mean high tide to 40 m inland are protected by law and reserved as open access space where no building or private ownership is allowed. This law is not being enforced, but it should be in the near future to prevent overcrowding and environmental degradation in foreshore areas. In fact, private control over beach and foreshore areas has increased to the point that oceanfront and beach access is limited within or near most urban centers. It is ironic that there are virtually no public beaches in Cebu City, the city known for its beaches! Other impacts of development activities on the coastal zone are shown in Table 1.
impact of pollution on coastal areas and marine waters and ecosystems
is degradation of the ecosystem, lower environmental quality, and most
significantly, lower natural production. Pollution prevention, treatment,
and disposal measures must be implemented to maintain the life support
system provided by coastal ecosystems. The public must be educated to
the fact that dilution is not the solution to pollution.
Key issues affecting food security include:
Fisheries of all kinds in the Philippines are near or have surpassed sustainable levels of catch (Israel and Banzon 1996). Most studies show that important fisheries are overfished and that the real return in terms of volume of catch and economic value is declining (Pauly and Chua 1988; Pauly 1990; Russ 1996). In some cases where volume has increased, the catch composition has changed to a lower value of catch because of changes in the ecological composition of the fishery. A particular issue is the continuous voluminous fishing of juveniles and spawners of commercial value species that is threatening some important species. The causes are complex, but the result is that fishing effort is greater than the resource can support and many habitats are degraded. The impact from this overfishing is initially subtle, but the end result is fewer fish and lower reproductive capacity of remaining fish.
Philippine fisheries production in 1996 totaled 2.8 million t. This production is divided almost equally between the municipal, commercial and aquaculture sectors. Aquaculture production has almost doubled in the last ten years. In contrast, the municipal sector shows a steady downward trend. Its contribution to total production decreased from 57 percent in the early 1970s to just 30 percent in 1996. In general, production growth has been minimal over the last 5 years, averaging 1.5 percent per year.
There are clear signs that Philippine open-water fisheries have reached their practical limits and, as noted, municipal fisheries are declining (Pauly 1990). One primary reason why these nearshore and small-scale fisheries are declining is that they are habitat dependent. And, as shown above, the viable and healthy coral reef and mangrove ecosystem areas have decreased significantly over this century (McManus et al. 1992). The result is a decrease in fish catch and a drastic decrease in catch per unit effort.
As the primary mandate for managing municipal waters lies with the local government, municipalities, cities, and provinces must serve as action centers for results. LGUs and their coastal communities must serve as stewards of coastal resources to sustain food production and economic benefits. Local governments are in a strong position to implement a variety of coastal management “best practices” to improve the benefits derived to local communities from their coastal areas. NGAs have a major role in supporting local governments to fulfill their mandate in managing coastal resources.
Key biodiversity issues include:
Overfishing, habitat loss, and international trade in coral reef-generated products have led to the destruction and local extinction of the organisms being collected, and often their habitat. Without improved coastal management, the Philippines risks the loss of significant numbers of marine species and habitats and the integrity of the coastal ecosystem to serve as a life support system.
People must decide that they want dugong and other endangered species to survive, and people must make changes in behavior to allow this to happen!
and institutional gaps and conflicts
Unfortunately, the existing laws are not effective in achieving their intended ends without political will, enforcement, and better institutional linkages and coordination to implement them. And, even if institutional responsibilities and support could be improved, the state of the coasts would not improve much without planning and management that considers all the idiosyncrasies of the local coastal areas and their human communities.
Coastal management in the Philippines must be seen as a basic service of local government with support from national government and assisting organizations. The planning and management process needs to begin with LGUs because this is where the primary mandate lies for resource management. Of course, this cannot be accomplished without much support from different sources and without some basic issues being addressed.
Key intergovernmental and intersectoral issues affecting the Philippine coastal and marine environment include:
Other considerations to improve the institutional and legal inadequacies are:
Environmental problems do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. Ocean currents carry sediments, toxic wastes, and pollutants from one area to another. Yet, legal and institutional systems must have boundaries to provide delineation of jurisdiction and areas of responsibility for effective implementation. The political boundaries of greatest importance in managing coastal resources in the Philippines are those of the LGUs. The implication is that variation in the ability or willingness of one LGU to implement management plans may affect neighboring jurisdictions. The inability or unwillingness of LGUs to engage in cooperative, multi-jurisdictional management is a significant drawback to effective coastal resource development and management. Without a means to manage special areas that include more than one LGU such as bays, gulfs, or straits with particular resources or problems, effective coastal management will be elusive (Arquiza and White 1999).
Finally, the default policy of open-access fisheries and resource use regimes is now changing to support better coastal resource management. This is a prerequisite to stopping the “tragedy of the commons” occurring throughout coastal areas. The devolution of jurisdiction to local governments is the first important step in reducing open access of coastal resources. The Fisheries Code of 1998 is a second important step, because the code encourages a variety of mechanisms that limit access and promote sustainable use. The application of resource rents, license and entry fees, zoning, marine sanctuaries, access and use plans, among others, will all be important to improve management.
An integrated coastal management approach is needed to address these issues and solve the complex problems facing coastal areas in a systematic and participatory manner. The promotion of coastal resource management as a basic service of government will help to ensure that coastal management is adopted throughout the country.
Integration across academic disciplines and sectors is needed to identify issues and research and develop management measures. Spatial and temporal integration must be pursued to address the interconnectedness of ecosystems and long time scales often required to meet management objectives. An integrative policy framework is essential to address conflicting legal and institutional mandates, plans, and programs. This integration of activities and plans is now seen as a sustaining factor in successful coastal management programs and can best be expressed in an ICM plan or program.
In the Philippines, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in Asia, changing coastal demographics, increased poverty and unsustainable resource use patterns have led resource managers to put greater emphasis on community-level coastal management with an increasing emphasis on integration of government and community. “The essential elements of this management process are simultaneous integration and coordination on multiple levels, which can incorporate national and local government working together with community groups in an iterative assessment, planning, and implementation process.... Interdisciplinary teams of researchers and policy experts are involved in the process. Ideally, the community is involved with the research and planning process from the onset, but at least it is consulted with assessment of results and management options” (Christie and White 1997).
Collaborative management or co-management, another way to describe the ICM process, offers:
Collaborative management is the mode in which ICM or CRM planning generally occurs in the Philippines. The planning and implementation activities should always involve the participation of government, non-governmental, and stakeholder groups.
The problems facing coastal areas and resources necessitate the use of integrated management approaches (White 1996; Christie and White 1997). Single issue or sector interventions cannot solve complex coastal management issues and their contributing causes (White et al. 1997). Integrated coastal management, incorporating the tenets of multisectoral collaboration (co-management) and community participation (community-based coastal resource management) is the only effective approach. This ICM approach is necessarily flexible and adaptable to the situation and set of issues to be addressed.
on experience and lessons learned
A second major influence has been a series of donor-assisted projects that have resulted in a number of pilot projects in ICM and built on lessons from the small community-based models developed earlier. These donor projects resulted from the interest and openness of Philippine government agencies and NGOs alike. Such projects have ranged in size from narrow to wide geographic boundaries and from low levels of financial support to multi-million dollar assistance over 5 or more years. A thrust in all such programs has been the participation of local communities and governments in a hands-on manner intended to build constituencies for coastal management from the bottom up. Although NGAs have been involved in all large coastal management projects, national policies on ICM are still weak, and no one agency in the country has a significant and clear mandate for coordinating the management of coastal resources. The mandate for coastal management is shared, not well defined, and sometimes under dispute.
A key lesson learned from the various coastal management projects is that it is impossible to plan and implement ICM programs without a multisectoral approach. Successful programs must have sufficient support from the national and local governments and non-governmental partners and a strong level of acceptance among the resource-dependent communities. A few key lessons and emerging directions in the Philippines are shown in Table 2.
Another major influence affecting the evolution of coastal management in the Philippines is the devolution of authority from central to local governments (provincial, city, and municipality). Coastal areas and resources in the Philippines were once maintained by the fact that there was a limited demand for the essential resources of space and economically valuable fish and other items. In the 1950s, demand for these resources surpassed supply. The open access regime of the past is now changing as the jurisdiction of coastal management is devolved to local governments as a basic service. This devolution of authority effectively sets up collaborative management regimes in which government and communities work together to manage resources.
The challenge created by the decentralization of coastal management responsibility is that few coastal cities and municipalities have the capacity to manage their natural resources. They generally lack trained personnel, budget, and capacity in planning and technical knowledge in coastal management. In spite of these limitations, the motivation among LGUs to manage their resources is increasing rapidly as they recognize the seriousness of the problem and what they stand to lose if no action is taken (White and Cruz-Trinidad 1998). Again, NGOs and academe have and are playing key roles to assist local and national government to take on the task of coastal management. In most of the donor-assisted projects noted above, NGOs performed many of the field facilitation tasks since LGUs are usually not equipped in this role.
The widespread decline of coastal resources in the Philippines is, without a doubt, a fundamental and urgent issue that needs to be addressed through active involvement from all sectors of society. The uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources has served as the primary starting point for the degraded condition of coastal resources experienced today. Fisheries and other coastal resources have been taken from the sea with few limitations and at very little cost, essentially free to the resource user. Exploitation of forest and mineral resources have left upland areas deforested and exposed which has resulted in coastal habitat destruction and fish kills from land-based runoff and other pollutants. Agro-industrial development has intensified, leaving in its wake marine pollution and destruction of critical coastal habitats. All these activities, against a backdrop of rapid population growth and migration to coastal areas and global climate change, have rendered the Philippine coastal environment increasingly degraded, decreasingly productive, and coastal communities among the poorest of the poor.
Regular and appropriate investments in coastal management are required to sustain national and local benefits derived from coastal resources. Fortunately, increasing awareness of the serious degradation of coastal and marine resources worldwide is shifting the focus of government and other programs toward coastal management and away from fisheries development. Furthermore, with the recognition that effective management develops from a participatory process involving coastal stakeholders and day-to-day resource users, many countries, including the Philippines, have devolved the responsibility of managing coastal resources to the lowest level of government. Here lie the challenges and opportunities to transform these and other new paradigms in coastal management to the successful recovery of Philippine seas. Changes in the overall orientation of coastal management in the Philippines are described in Table 3.
Participation in management decisions is essential at all levels. The Philippines has a tradition of democracy that encourages community-level participation and responsibility. This builds on the bottom-up model of encouraging barangay-level groups to form management associations and become the effective managers of their coastal resources. This local level of decision making is supported through the Local Government Code and the Fisheries Code, which both give significant jurisdiction to local governments in the resource management process.
National agencies with jurisdiction over coastal resources need to assist LGUs and provide technical support. The capacity of local governments to manage their coastal environments and resources is limited. They need technical guidance, personnel, budget, and mentoring to achieve ICM practices. This can be facilitated by national agencies such as DA-BFAR, DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Tourism (DOT) with jurisdiction and concern for coastal environments and resources. The difference now, as compared to the past, is that the direct management responsibility and implementing authority lies primarily with the local governments.
Collaboration and synergy among agencies is essential. The very term “integrated” strongly suggests that all institutions with a mandate and concern for management of coastal resources must collaborate. This collaboration will include government and nongovernment organizations and international projects and donors. The planning unit and the boundaries of collaboration will most often be determined by ecological criteria and natural divisions. Bays with defined ocean parameters, resources, and issues do not respect political boundaries. Rather, they must be planned for and managed as a bay unit. This may include several municipalities and one or more provinces in some cases.
Multiple education and communication strategies are required to build a wide base of support for ICM. People must begin to understand the issues before they will take action to solve them. This can be achieved through education and media campaigns. ICM can be promoted through networks of constituency groups to support initiatives, thus ensuring better sustainability of efforts.
Proven technical interventions must be pursued and applied appropriately. Much experience has been gained through a variety of coastal management projects that have tested coastal management interventions. The viable interventions must be pursued, such as integrated planning, habitat protection and management, improved law enforcement, environmentally sensitive livelihood options, community organization and education, and others (Christie and White 1997).
plays a pivotal role as the last safety net for the recovery of coastal
and marine resources in the Philippines. In the Philippine context, coastal
management processes and management measures are collectively viewed as
the delivery of basic services by local governments — municipal,
city, and provincial. These basic services cannot be delivered without
cooperation between local governments and, at the same time, without the
support of NGAs, NGOs, coastal communities, academe, private, and other
Coastal management as a basic service of local government incorporates all the local government powers and responsibilities including planning, protection, legislation, regulation, revenue generation, enforcement, intergovernmental relations, relations with people’s and nongovernment organizations, and extension and technical assistance.
The municipal or city government has an important facilitating role in the coastal management process because of their legal mandate to manage resources within municipal waters. National agencies, DENR and BFAR primarily, have key supporting roles in the coastal management process together with LGUs, including provinces. NGOs, both national and local, are often involved in the community-level implementation process through either contracting arrangements under government agencies or through their own projects funded externally.
are all clustered around human behaviors that collectively are destroying
our coastal environments and resources. The solutions involve much improved
planning of how we use our coastal resources and how we manage our behavior
as a society. A key ingredient in succeeding to protect and manage our
coastal areas and the people that reside there is for people to participate
in the process and to take responsibility for their actions. The LGU is
the logical political unit to encourage this to happen because the Philippine
coastline is too long for any one national agency to have effective control.
Supporting CRM as a basic service of city, municipal, and provincial governments,
and all this entails, is crucial to meeting the challenge of sustaining
our coasts and seas.
This website was made possible through support provided by the USAID under the terms of Contract No. AID 492-0444-C-00-6028-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID. Articles may be quoted or reproduced in any form for non-commercial, non-profit purposes to advance the cause of marine environmental management and conservation as long as proper reference is made to the source.