Book lauds island conservation efforts 

 

Book lauds island conservation efforts DENR MIMAROPA

June 16, 2017, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region launches today the coffee table book “Apo Reef Natural Park, the Rising Jewel of the Deep” to immortalize the grandeur of the island paradise and showcase the concerted efforts of the government and stakeholders to protect the island’s unique biodiversity.

The Apo Reef Natural Park is located 33 kilometers off the coast of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and covers 27, 469 hectares of diverse flora and fauna. It is also one of the 240 protected areas in the country identified in the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

Unfortunately, unsustainable and illegal fishing activities damaged the island and threatened its ecosystem. In response, the DENR, together with the Marine and Apo Reef Law Enforcement for Nature (Task Force MARLEN), Bantay Dagat, Solidong Hanay para sa Apo Reef at Karagatan ng Sablayan (SHARKS), and the local government of Sablayan, joined forces to implement policies to protect the reef.

A No Take Zone Policy prohibits the collection of plants, corals, and other marine life from the island. A total ban on fishing was also implemented; fishers were instead provided with fish aggregating devices or “payao” which the local government set up in the municipal waters of Sablayan. Meanwhile, an ecotourism management program regulates the volume and activities of tourists to minimize the disturbance of wildlife in Apo Reef.

Together, these measures allowed the recovery of Apo Reef, improving its marine population as evidenced by the increasing catch of fishers in the municipal waters of Sablayan.

DENR hopes that the success of its experience in island conservation in Apo Reef serves as an inspiration for more communities and agencies to undertake similar initiatives in other areas of the country.