More than a million hectares covering both the coastal and offshore waters of Cagayancillo, plus 80,000 hectares of Aborlan in Palawan were recently declared as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Cagayancillo is the smallest municipality in the province of Palawan and the closest settlement to the Tubbataha National Marine Park. The word Cagayancillo is Spanish for "Little Cagayan." The municipality is composed of 31 islands with a total land area of only 2,639 hectares (6,520 acres) as of 2007.
The initiative is part of a two-country initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Fondation Segré to rebuild the fish stocks of the Coral Triangle by changing the way people view protected areas, Update Philippines reported earlier this month.
Though composed of both offshore and coastal zones, Cagayancillo is now the largest MPA in the country – due mostly to an ordinance under Republic Act 7611.
The move heavily involves local fishermen and communities in the management of marine resources by helping them gain exclusive rights to fisheries located in or near MPAs and by working with them to improve the health and productivity of their fisheries.
The project aims to expand the network of critical marine areas that are protected, effectively-managed and sustainably financed in the Coral Triangle. “Through well-managed MPAs, coastal communities can realize that conservation is the surest way to secure tomorrow’s fish,” says WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma.