APO IS­LAND: CRE­AT­ING A MA­RINE PRO­TECTED AREA

In the unas­sum­ing prov­ince of Ne­gros Ori­en­tal, a bustling com­mu­nity has come to­gether to pro­tect the ocean sur­round­ing Apo Is­land

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Contents - By Roni Ben-Aharon

Con­sum­ing less plas­tic, sup­port­ing sus­tain­able fish­ing, re­cy­cling, buy­ing tuna from a dol­phin safe fish­ery – we ocean lovers do what we can to pro­tect the big blue. But when safe­guard­ing some­thing so vast, with so many vari­ables, one’s ef­forts may feel like a drop in the ocean. Even so, small ef­forts can make a huge dif­fer­ence, and such is the story of Apo Is­land, one of the first ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas in the Philip­pines.

The aquatic na­tion of the Philip­pines, a global hotspot for ma­rine di­ver­sity, is si­t­u­ated in the north­west­ern cor­ner of the Co­ral Tri­an­gle – the world’s most bio­di­verse ma­rine area and home to 75 per­cent of the world’s co­ral species and 40 per­cent of the world’s fish species. Over 100 mil­lion peo­ple in the Philip­pines rely on the sea for their liveli­hood, par­tic­u­larly those in the small shore­line fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Lo­cated off the coast of Ne­gros Ori­en­tal,

Apo Is­land is the old­est con­tin­u­ous ma­rine pro­tected area in the Philip­pines and home to 650 doc­u­mented species of fish and over 400 doc­u­mented species of corals. It is here where sci­ence and the com­mu­nity have made a joint ef­fort to find the del­i­cate balance of pro­tect­ing the reef fish while re­ly­ing on them as a sus­tain­able food source.

Apo Is­land is as beau­ti­ful top­side as it is below the sur­face ABOVE

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