by Julia Escaño
A few months ago, in October 2016, nature conservation groups World Wildlife Fund and Fondation Segré added over a million hectares of offshore and coastal waters to the Philippines’ Marine Protected Areas. These are found within 2 barangays in Palawan: Cagayancillo and Aborlan. They flank the Tubbataha Reefs in the Coral Triangle and are meant to bolster fish stocks.
The residents of Cagayancillo welcomed this news, after clamoring to be declared a Marine Protected Area for years. They claim that the conservation efforts being done in the Coral Triangle result in a better livelihood. Though it’s still a long way before all of the Philippines’ 1557 MPA’s become as successful as Cagayancillo, it’s still a step in the right direction.
If you are passionate about our oceans, and the riches beneath them, you can be a part of these efforts, too. By volunteering in marine conservation projects in the Philippines, you can take part in protecting the seas with these group of conservationists:
Marine Conservation Philippines
If you’re an avid scuba diver and you want to give back to the habitat you so enjoy, check out Marine Conservation Philippines. This non-profit organization works to preserve, protect, and enrich the country’s underwater resources. Marine Conservation Philippines’ has a range of projects with different durations. Some projects such as the creation of artificial reefs are one-offs. Meanwhile, others are continuous, such as research and documentation.
Coral Cay Conservation
Coral Cay Conservation or CCC is an international NGO that’s been running since 1986. They entered the Philippine marine conservation scene in 1996, and until now continues to contribute to the research and assessment of potential MPA’s. Philippine efforts or Coral Cay Conservation is focused in Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte. Volunteers not only get to dive and closely study the ecosystem of this area, but they also help educate residents and create a lasting impact through awareness and participation, too. This is perfect for aspiring volunteers with non-diver friends who also want to give back.
Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation
While CCEF also has projects for avid divers, they have plenty of opportunities for land-loving volunteers too. Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation has a lineup of projects focused on preservation, research, documentation, and protection of marine life; it also has projects focused on community development and fostering collaborative effort to ensure permanent benefits. Volunteer divers can work as research assistants. Meanwhile, non-divers can help by educating communities, helping create small and sustainable enterprises, and even do administrative work. Whatever your abilities, as long as you love the ocean, there’s something here for you.
Thresher Shark Project
This non-profit is perfect for people who think that sharks are fascinating. Thresher Shark Project is dedicated to studying the threshers of Monad Shoal, Malapascua. Major ongoing projects include tag feasibility studies and shark pathology research. Volunteers get to tag along as research assistants, helping in data gathering, surveying and collating. They are also trained to become competent in underwater photography, videography, and behavioral science with regards to the sharks.
As the name implies, Balyena.org specializes in the conservation of whales – especially humpbacks. But this isn’t all that they’re about. The non-profit organization also looks after dolphins, porpoises, and mobula rays. Their projects range from research and data gathering to educating local communities about the benefits of protecting these animals, to emergency response for strandings. Their main efforts are scattered between Bohol and the Babuyan Islands and are most active from the months of March to May. Volunteers have several projects to choose from depending on their availability and preference. Non-divers also have lots of opportunities to help out at Balyena.org through their land-based work.