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marine biodiversity education and sustainable fisheries awareness program in bohol

The Bohol Sea is one of the marine key biodiversity areas in the country, rich in fish as well as large marine vertebrates such as whales, dolphins, whale sharks, rays and sea turtles. The municipality of Jagna sits on the northern rim of the Bohol Sea and is considered as one of the main gateways to Northern Mindanao. Jagna has more than 13kms of coastline and its coastal communities have depended on fishing and fisheriesrelated activities for centuries. One of the traditional fishing industries is the catch of manta rays (Acebes, 2006). They used to catch these animals using a locally made harpoon, called ‘isi’. However, this tradition of jumping from a boat to thrust a long harpoon unto the back of the manta ray has slowly disappeared. The method has been replaced by more modern means, using large nets. These nets are non-selective and indiscriminately catch not only juvenile manta rays but other small ray species. Manta rays (Manta birostris) are classified under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as near threatened (NT) (Marshall et al, 2006). Although a nationwide ban on catching manta rays was imposed back in 1998, very little is known about their distribution and population abundance in the Bohol Sea. And although equally important, the extent of this fishery and the impact of the ban on the fishing communities of Bohol are not known. Other targeted species in Jagna are flying fish (‘bangsi’) and bullet tuna (common name ‘tulingan’, family Scombridae). The gear commonly used accidentally catches dolphins and sharks.

The Project primarily aims to inform and educate people about the diverse marine ecosystem of the Bohol Sea. It will provide a venue for the information dissemination, education, conservation and research on the coastal and marine life of Bohol. The Project promotes the conservation of the rich marine resources of Bohol through the strengthening of the management of marine sanctuaries. Lastly it promotes sustainable fishing practices, with particular attention to addressing issues on direct and indirect hunting for large marine vertebrates (i.e. rays, sharks & cetaceans).

Rapid assessment of the fisheries in Jagna aims to understand the current status of the marine resources and help recommend steps in the development of a more sustainable method of fishery that will not only benefit the communities of Jagna but the entire people of Bohol and adjacent islands sharing the Bohol Sea. Through youth camps, educational lectures, and exhibits, the young people of Jagna will learn first-hand about their marine environment and encourage them to conserve it. Educational materials and exhibits produced will be displayed and maintained at the Marine Education Centre in Jagna. The centre which is currently in its development stage is envisioned to facilitate marine education, awareness, research and conservation and will be open to all.

Bohol fishers sorting nets in preparation for the next fishing trip.

Installing marker buoys for marine sanctuaries in Jagna.

Environmental talks at elementary schools in Jagna.