Verde Island Passage

  In 2005, a study by Dr. Kent Carpenter, IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment coordinator, and Victor Springer of the Smithsonian Institute revealed that the Verde Island Passage, situated between the province of Batangas and the island of Mindoro, Philippines, contained a high concentration of marine species per unit area.

Policy Brief on Coral Gardening now available for download

Coral gardening is the process of restoring cover of a damaged reef by affixing live coral fragments. This method of reef rehabilitation has been gaining popularity in the Philippines, and while it has its applications, it should be the last option for bringing a reef back to a healthy state. Proper management of reef resources through marine protected areas, removal of stressors, and easing of fishing pressure provides a broader and more holistic approach while allowing the reef to recover by itself. If coral gardening is the only viable option available for rehabilitating a certain reef, careful consideration must be put into site selection, coral species to be utilized, and the management of transplantation sites. All national and local government permits required for operating a coral gardening initiative should also be obtained, and a monitoring plan formulated to assess its effectivity in the long run.

Written by Michelle Z. Reyes, Darwin J.C. Raymundo, Sameen J. Rizwan, and Wilfredo Y. Licuanan Br. Alfred Shields FSC Ocean Research Center, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines

Support for the Development of Social Enterprises for Fishing Communities in Verde Island Passage (VIP) MKBA

I. Introduction

Overfishing has been identified as one of the main causes of biodiversity loss, which in turn has been brought about by the lack of livelihood alternatives. As the vicious cycle has shown, desperation and overcrowding have driven marginal fishers into using destructive exploitation methods, further aggravating the survival of the country’s remaining biodiversity in the marine sector. A reduction in overfishing can be achieved by providing alternative economic activities to those directly participating in the sector, which in turn will reduce the threats to biodiversity.

Social enterprise development is now emerging as a biodiversity conservation tool, although initially designed as a poverty reduction strategy, primarily because of its triple bottom line approach by its creation of wealth, social equity in the ownership of enterprise, and the very least harm to the natural ecosystem thereby serving conservation objectives even further.

The project intends to complement current ECOFISH deliverables and activities by enhancing the sustainable financing strategy of the project. A reduction in overfishing by providing alternative economic activities will thus reduce the costs of fisheries management, thereby reducing the need to allocate more public funds for the sector. It focuses on VIP because of the presence of opportunities that have been identified and arisen during the course of project implementation in the past 2 years.

The area covers the Batangas coastal municipalities in VIP Marine Key Biodiversity Area (MKBA) where the problem of overfishing still occurs. Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) is still on the decline, and recent surveys show fishing families complain of smaller fish sizes and lower abundance in fish catch. Poverty is still prevalent in fishing communities, despite the growth of the tourism industry in some areas such as Mabini. Threats to coastal resources still exist as fishers continue to use illegal and destructive methods to compensate for the worsening situation of lower catch, smaller sizes, and lower incomes. There is thus a need to directly target fishing communities by providing them with alternative and sustainable sources of income.

II. Project Phases

In close coordination with ECOFISH, Pusod, Inc will undertake the following activities:

Phase 1: Scoping and Scanning

Communities will be selected among the existing municipalities within each MKBA. Selection will be based on any or a combination of the following:

1.the existence of active people’s organizations, cooperative LGUs,
2. potentials for products or services that can be scaled up into enterprises, and
3. potentials for linking such products or services to nearby markets.

FGDs will be conducted among the selected communities to get their commitment and ideas. The project will ensure that the POs will be active partners in setting up the enterprises, not just passive beneficiaries waiting for whatever will be downloaded to them.

Phase 2: Community Development and Business Planning

Participatory Community Development Planning will engage the whole community in their own resource assessment through workshop tools combined with the relevant tools of Participatory Coastal Resource Assessment (PCRA). It will utilize relevant data generated by the project’s baseline assessments, particularly results from the socioeconomic assessments of ECOFISH MKBAs.

Business and production planning methods will be utilized, with emphasis on engaging the community towards formulating the feasibility study of their selected enterprise using the Subsector Analysis Matrix and Value-Chain analysis.

Legal requirements will be tackled as early as possible, and the project will assist the organizations in securing their legal status as social enterprises.

Periodic monitoring and evaluations will also engage community participation, especially in the formulation of conclusive assessments of project implementation and in uniting on corrective measures and new methods to be adopted.

The following fisherfolk communities and their respective existing and proposed products have been identified during the scoping and scanning process:

Municipalities / Barangays
Existing / Proposed Products

Nasugbu Wawa, Papaya

Seaweed Farming, Seaweeds Chip Production

Calatagan – Balitoc, Tanagan

Halaan Culture

Lian Binubusan, Lumaniag

Ecotourism Services

Balayan Palicpican

Boat Tools Rental and Engine Repair Services

Lemery Sambal Ilaya

Fish processing

Taal Butong

Flavored Suman All you Can


Ecotourism Boat Rental

Lobo Malabrigo, Olo-olo, Lagadlarin, Sawang

Ecotourism Services

San Juan – Nagsaulay

Ecotourism Services

Batangas City ; Tabangao, San Andres,Verde Is.

Ecotourism Services

Phase 3: Training and Capacity Building

A series of training and capacity building activities will be conducted within each MKBA, involving the following topics:

  • EAFM orientation and the EAFM framework plan of the MKBA (to be provided by ECOFISH)
  • Mainstreaming gender
  • Sustainable community management systems and participatory local governance
  • Value chain analysis for identified enterprise products
  • Proposal making and feasibility studies
  • Management, specific protocols and legal requirements for operations of community social enterprises
  • Cost-efficient budgeting and finance management systems for social enterprises
  • Social marketing, branding and fair trade standards

Trainings and capacity building activities will not just involve one-off lectures. Rather, hands on training will be done with community organizations, guiding them through each step of the way until they are able to accomplish the outputs satisfactorily

Phase 4: Production/ Actual Operations

This phase will begin upon satisfactory evaluation of the planning, training and capacity building phases. Prototype products or services will be produced towards the second year. Constant monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken for consistent improvement of the product or service.

Initial scoping work of ECOFISH reveals that the following enterprises can possibly be set up in some of the coastal municipalities of Batangas:

Enterprise Potential Coverage
Environment-friendly cleaning products Calatagan, Nasugbu, Lemery, San Juan, Lobo
Salt-making Balayan, Lobo, Calatagan, Lemery
Sea cucumber sea ranching Mabini, Calatagan
Recycling facilities for ship wastes Batangas City, Mabini, Bauan, Lemery, Calatagan
Coco coir Lobo
Preserved/processed food (pickles, vinegar, native delicacies, etc) Lobo, Taal, Balayan, Calatagan, Lemery

Phase 4: Production/ Actual Operations

This phase will be conducted parallel to the development of prototype products or services. Linkages will be established not just with markets of the products themselves, but also with potential financing partners (lending I nstitutions, credit lending facilities, private sector partners, etc.) that may be interested in either co- owning or comanaging the enterprise, or simply financing its operations.

Potentials for scaling up will be assessed towards the last year, and recommendations will be formulated for MKBA authorities and POs to take the enterprises further.

III. Project Objectives/ECOFISH Benefits

The proposal is aligned with the overall objective of the ECOFISH project:

“To improve the management of important coastal and marine resources and ecosystems that support livelihoods and local economies, designed to (1) conserve biological bio-diversity, (2) enhance ecosystem productivity, (3) restore the profitability of fisheries, in select Marine Key Biodiversity Areas (MKBA) using the eco-systems approach to fisheries management”

The project seeks to complement the ECOFISH project through its own set of objectives:

1. To facilitate sustainable development plans and social enterprises for the marginal coastal communities of VIP that add or serve as alternative to municipal fishing operations
2. To empower coastal communities through holistic capability building to enable them to successfully manage their resources and community enterprises.
3. To generate multi-stakeholder cooperation and, when feasible, Public-Private Partnerships at the municipal and inter-municipal level in supporting the establishment and growth of alternative community enterprises.

Most importantly, the establishment of social enterprises in the VIP MKBA will significantly contribute to the achievement of one of two project outcomes, i.e. increase in the number of people gaining employment or better employment from sustainable fisheries management from a baseline established at the start of the project.

Philippine nature’s wealth: Preserve and conserve through education

”The Philippines is jam-packed with diverse and threatened species —it’s one of the most astounding regions of biodiversity on Earth.“

This is a simple yet meaningful statement from Terry Gosliner of the California Academy of Sciences who led the expedition on the Verde Island Passage, delivered at the 2015 celebration of the World Ocean’s Day. What he said about the country’s biodiversity is something that Filipinos can be proud of, but beyond his words, Filipinos should really be concerned.

Mabini Education Outreach – 2014 Verde Island Passage 

Part of the Biodiversity Expedition in Verde Island Passage, an education outreach activity was held at the Sangguniang Bayan Sessionl Hall of Mabini, Batangas. A total of 89 participants attended. The Dep Ed Mabini District headed by Mr. Tony Ilagan, Science Teachers and students of the different elementary and high schools, together with Bantay Dagat, Batangas FARMC, Coastal Barangay Chairpersons, Ecofish representatives, members of the Local Govt Unit and private resort owners participated in the activity. 
The next education outreach will be held on May 14, 9-11am at the Calatagan Central School, and on May 27, 9-11am at the Protacio Beach Resort in Lubang Island. 
It is a beautiful busy summer for Pusod, Inc.!

Partnership with California Academy of Sciences

“We wanted to exhibit the most diverse marine ecosystem on earth – a Philippine reef. The New Academy ’s goal to reach a broad and diverse audience is the reason we have this wonderful evolution of interaction with Pusod and the Filipino community. ” 

Dr. Terry Gosliner

Director of Research, California Academy of Sciences

The partnership between PUSOD and the Californica Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco began when the Academy reached out to the Filipino American community to raise awareness about the newest, state of the art 212,000 gallon Aquarium featuring the most diverse marine ecosystem on earth – a Philippine reef. 
Pusod ’s main role in the California Academy of Sciences partnership is twofold: To act as a bridge between the Academy and Filipino communities in the U.S. and the Philippines; and to provide real-life accounts of experiences of men, women and children practicing sustainable fishing and reef protection as the human angle for the Aquarium ’s worldwide audience.

Since 1996 in the Philippines,and 1999 in the U.S., Pusod has been working to educate Filipinos and Americans about the significance of Philippine ecosystems–renowned for some of the highest levels of endemic marine life in the world–and the need for their protection. Scientists have recently identified one square kilometer along the Verde Island Passage, at the mouth of Balayan Bay in Batangas Province, as the “center of the center” of marine shore-fish biodiversity for all the world’s oceans. This is one of Pusod’s project sites. 

One of Pusod’s tools for fulfilling our mission of protecting and enhancing the natural wealth of Philippine ecosystems is our 11-year running, award-winning Tagalog-language weekly newspaper, Balikas (a play on the words balik and likas which loosely translate as Return to Nature). Balikas is used by villages, schools, churches, local government units, women’s and other groups for environmental education on topics ranging from sustainable fishing and organic farming practices, to biodiversity monitoring, technology training for youth, health and more. 

Balikas is also the source for on-going coverage of coastal residents leading their communities to protect and enhance their marine environments. One of these is Calatagan, Batangas fisherman and SAMMACA founder Ruperto /Ka Uper” Aleroza. “It’s good they’re not just showing our fish in the new museum,” Ka Uper muses. “Afterall, we live here too.” 

With a 12-year history of operations not just in Batangas but throughout the Southern Tagalog region, Pusod also maintains a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Prior to Philippine incorporation with the SEC, Pusod operated as a program of the Babilonia Wilner Foundation, or BWF, its 501-c3 parent and partner organization.) Since 1999, Pusod has been the only Philippine-based program to bring a steady stream of awareness of overall Philippine environmental issues – in all its triumphs and tragedies – to the United States. In doing so, Pusod highlights not only the magnitude of Philippine environmental (and therefore economic and cultural) concerns, but also how they affect and are affected by people’s actions and policies in the U.S. 

Thus uniquely positioned to help the Academy achieve its mandate to “Reach a Broad and Diverse Audience”, Pusod has been building bridges between CAS and the Filipino community in the U.S., and local fisherfolk, scientific and other stakeholders in the Philippines.

Activities and Events

Alaminos Carbon Project of Ayala Land, Inc.

The Alaminos Carbon Project of Ayala Land, Inc. has kicked off with a briefing on Republic Act 9147: Wildlife Resources Conservation Act. The participants were welcomed by the Mayor Loreto Masa of Alaminos while Architect Anna Gonzales of Ayala Land, Inc. provided the...

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Building artificial habitats in Barangay Calayo

Calayo People's Organization members, trained by Lian Kingfisher Fisherfolk Association, are building artificial habitats in Barangay Calayo in Nasugbu. This is a research project supervised by Dr. Al Licuanan and his team of marine science researchers. This project...

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Artificial habitat units fabrication

Lian Fisherfolk Association of Brgy. Lumaniag on their last phase of artificial reef fabrication. Ready for deployment. The project is part of the Protection and Rehabilitation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystem of Lian funded by the Department of Environment and Natural...

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Dive for reef assessment in Nasugbu

Check out dive for reef assessment in Nasugbu. Standardization and identification of substrate. Second Dive 2 will be individual practice of substrates using point intercept method for 100 meters transect. Concepts and theories of reef assessment was facilitated by...

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Coastal and Marine Resource Enhancement Project

Inception meeting with the Lian Local Government Unit Heads on "Coastal and Marine Resource Enhancement Project". The DLSU Shields Ocean Research (SHORE) will implement the Coral Reef Enhancement component. Pusod will partner with Tanggol Kalikasan and the US DOI for...

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(043) 757 3192

Unit V5, 2nd Flr., BigBen Complex, J.P., Pres. J.P. Laurel Hwy, Lipa, 4217 Batangas