Fundraising for Philippine Turtle Marine Sanctuary

This past summer we spent 2 months on the Island of Guimaras in the Philippines. We met many people in many different communities and there are many possible projects, but one stands out.

We met many people working on environmental conservation. The Island has turtles who come back to nest on the Island. These are the big sea turtles who, as adults, migrate around Asia. This past year there were over 100 turtles that hatched and swam away so we know that the nesting spots are still being used, but the turtles are still at risk. (By chance, as we visited one beach, a fully grown adult turtle washed ashore—dead.)

The fisheries staff are working with local barangays (communities) to set up protected areas that will ensure adequate fish for future generations of fisher-folk as well as safe nesting beaches for turtles. After seeing increased fish numbers in a neighboring marine protected area, the local fishing communities are 100% supportive (enthusiastically so!) of the marine sanctuary developments. Meanwhile, the tourist industry (particularly the ‘island-hopping’ boats) continue to damage the coral reefs that support a healthy ecosystem for the turtles, fish, and communities that depend on them.

The municipality of Jordan has a new mayor and new SB officers (councilors) that are committed to improving tourism in Jordan and the rest of the province. While they want to make the tourist sites accessible to visitors, they also realize that they need to educate the stakeholders (tourism operators, boat drivers, tourists, etc.) about the protected resources on the island. The mayor and the council have already approved a resolution for marine sanctuary policies (for tourists and local communities). The municipality has asked us to help them educate the stakeholders regarding safe practices, policies and penalties/fines. We have already done some preliminary planning with a Peace Corps Volunteer and local fisheries technician to come up with the overall plan for the educational video.

 An underwater camera would really help the fisheries staff to be able to document what is happening and would also allow them to loan out the camera to community members to document what is happening. We are currently fundraising to send a go pro underwater camera system to help the community get footage to be used in the education videos.