By Development Communication Section / ND Salayo
It has been five years since SEAFDEC/AQD and its collaborators first released abalone and sandfish in the Community-Based Stock Enhancement (CBSE) Project Demonstration Site (locally known as ‘Semilyahan’) and now, it’s been successfully replenishing abalone and sandfish wild stocks in Molocaboc Island.
Last 22 June 2016, these achievements were commemorated in a meeting attended by the three-party collaborators of the CBSE Project including: 1) the local government of Sagay City through the Protected Area Management Board of the Sagay Marine Reserve (PAMB-SMR) led by Mayor Alfredo Marañon III and Molocaboc Barangay Council (MBC) led by Chairman Antonio Pasaylo; 2) the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (BFARMC) led by its President Mariano Jarina through the Molocaboc Sea Ranchers’ Association (MOSRA) led by its President Terso Cordova; and 3) the Government of Japan-Trust Fund (GOJ-TF) Project of SEAFDEC/AQD led by Deputy Chief/Acting Chief Dr. Chihaya Nakayasu.
During the meeting, the key project activities that led to the achievements that are now the pride of fisherfolk in Molocaboc Island were recalled. The released abalones established and proliferated in coral patches in the intertidal flats such that the BFARMC and MOSRA are able to obtain operational funds from the sale of abalone harvests from the CBSE demo-site. Meanwhile, the local fisherfolk gleaners reported collecting more abalones in rocky areas outside of the CBSE demo-site compared to prior years. Local students and fisherfolk who have actively participated in the nursery rearing and release of sandfish likewise attest to more sandfish gleaned around the intertidal flats than in previous years. In view of the protection of the CBSE demo-site, corals have recovered and now host various fish and shell species that now attract local tourists in Molocaboc. Hence, the engagement of Molocaboc stakeholders in the promotion and implementation of eco-tourism projects of the Sagay City LGU were asserted by BFARMC, MOSRA and MBC during the anniversary meeting.
The first release of abalone and sandfish was in June 9, 2011 as a key activity of two GOJ-TF studies led by AQD Scientist Dr. Nerissa D. Salayo and Former AQD Visiting Scientist Ms. Frances Nievales. In 2015, AQD Scientist Dr. Jon Altamirano was requested to lead the release of sandfish. However, the socioeconomic baseline surveys, information dissemination and community organizing activities in preparation for releases officially started during the first courtesy call with SMR-PAMB and MBC in November 2006.
The celebration honored the active participation of previous GOJ-TF co-managers and AQD Deputy Chiefs Dr. Teruo Azuma and Dr. Takuro Shibuno in the CBSE activities in Molocaboc. Also cited were AQD Senior Technical Assistants Ms. Raisa Castel, Mr. Charlemagne Recente, Technical Assistant Ms. Roselyn Noran and Technician Mr. Rafael Barrido, as well as other previous staff, and the abalone and sandfish hatchery staff at AQD that have contributed to the success of the CBSE in Molocaboc.
Indeed, the GOJ-TF and AQD project with local stakeholders has led to the recovery of the rich marine ecosystem in the intertidal flats of Molocaboc. It also helped organize fisherfolk and pursued socioeconomic challenges in an island community through community-based resource enhancement initiatives.