Rare Philippines celebrates 'pride' in marine life
MANILA, Philippines – Almost 60 million Filipinos – or 56% of our population – get their daily nutrition from fish; however, for the past few decades, Philippine marine life has been under threat due to illegal practices like dynamite and cyanide fishing.
To address the issue, Rare Philippines, a non-governmental organization, has been executing “Pride” campaigns – a creative approach to implementing behavior change strategies regarding conservation of Philippine fisheries and marine life.
Rare is an international non-profit organization which aims to address environmental problems by directly working with local communities. It believes that the fishers themselves can become leaders of change.
Rare Philippines trains community leaders to inspire citizens and fishers to "become solutions instead of problems."
Rare also uses social marketing, arts, posters, mascots, and community events to get the message of conservation and sustainability across. Rare celebrated their most recent accomplishments on Friday, August 13.
Advocates praised Rare’s attempts at raising environmental awareness. “We will duplicate, replicate learnings that we’ve had by the campaigns from Rare,” said Marjorie Grutas, Assistant Regional Director for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 5.
“Rare’s efforts have paved the way for making many bright spots in our conservation efforts…explaining conservation to fishers is an important task particularly when asked to give up a portion of their fishing ground to give way for marine protected areas (MPAs),” Dr Vincent Hilomen of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Hilomen said that DENR considers Rare as its partner. At present, Rare has worked in 25 municipalities through their Pride campaigns – providing proper education and training for fishers.
The 3 main goals met by Pride are:
- Increased live hard coral cover condition
- Increased fish density
- Increased fish biomass density
Overall, Rare Philippines observed some positive changes.
For increased live hard coral cover condition, there has been a 7.5% change from 2012 to 2014. 8 out of 13 fishing sites fared better; however, due to typhoons, some sites were either maintained or decreased.
Under increased fish density, there was a 16% change from 2012 to 2014. Particularly, fish species targeted by fishes increased in density by 8%. 6 out of 13 sites showed increases in fish abundance density.
Finally, increased fish biomass density is the most sensitive metric when it comes to protection. A 30.9% change occurred from 2012 to 2014. Seven out of 13 sites greatly improved, and all fish groups increased in density.
In particular, the target fish group which is highly preferred by fishers due to economic value – increased by 10.2% in the past two years. Meanwhile, the major fish group – food for consumption but relatively lower economic value – increased by 31.36%. Species that are closely associated with corals also increased.
To further improve the country’s fisheries, Rare advised Filipinos to change their behavior towards the environment.
“There are the don’ts – we want fishers to stop destructive practices like dynamite or cyanide fishing or using the wrong gear. We want them to not fish inside no-take zones or marine reserves. Then there are the do’s – reporting intrusions when they see them or becoming a member of the Bantay Dagat (Sea Patrol),” Rocky Sanchez Tirona, Head of Rare Philippines, said. – Rappler.com
Kim Encarnacion is a Rappler intern. She is a graduate of University of Asia and the Pacific with a degree in AB Integrated Marketing Communications.
More information about Rare’s efforts in the Philippines here.