1974

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Feature: Creating A Marine Protected Area -

The Ma­rine Sci­ence Depart­ment of Sil­li­man Univer­sity ini­ti­ated a ma­rine re­search project in Su­milon Is­land. This project was led by

Dr. An­gel Al­cala, a pi­o­neer sci­en­tist who grew up in a fish­ing com­mu­nity in Ne­gros. The project stud­ied the ef­fects a pi­lot ma­rine pro­tected area would have on the sur­round­ing fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

The idea – to sell the con­cept of ma­rine con­ser­va­tion to the lo­cal fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties as a method of im­prov­ing yields – was revo­lu­tion­ary. Dr. Al­cala’s the­ory was that a ma­rine pro­tected area would ben­e­fit the fish­eries around it through two fac­tors:

1. There would be a spillover of adult fish from the pro­tected area into the sur­round­ing area, where the pro­tected area func­tions as a shel­ter for fish to es­cape, ma­ture and spawn

2. Fish spawn­ing in the pro­tected area would pro­duce lar­vae that is car­ried by the cur­rents to other com­mu­ni­ties on the reef

As such, Su­milon Is­land be­came the Philip­pines’ first small ma­rine pro­tected area, where fish­ing and other hu­man ac­tiv­ity was banned.

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