Apo Island Marine Sanctuary

Apo Island Marine Sanctuary is a good example around the world for its success in community-based marine reserve.

  1. Policy and legislative review

In 1979 Siliman University started the conservation education program on the island after the clear decline of fish stocks. The decline was due to destructive fishing like dynamite or blast fishing and muro-ami. Later on marine reserve was proposed but only a few supported the idea regardless that the community leader – the Barangay Captain was one of the few. An agreement was reached after a thorough discussion between Siliman University, the community members of the island and Municipality of Dauin. Traditional and non-destructive fishing was allowed at that time as their alternative source of food after destructive fishing technique was banned and in 1982 a 0.45-kilometer no-take zone was created. Presently the source of income of most of the locals is tourism after regaining the biodiversity of the coral reef.

The reserve was established in 1982 but the legal framework wasn’t come into force until 1986 in the form of Municipal Ordinance and later on with the enforcement of Local Government Code (1991) and the Philippines Fisheries Code (1998) that bestowed the right of the local government to manage marine resources up to 15 km from their shore. It is co-manage by national government and elected community members. In 1994 the island was declared a Protected Landscape and Seascape under the NIPAS and the national government lead the management and after establishing the Protected Areas Management Board.

  1. Preliminary Planning 

In the case of Apo Island it was the Siliman University, which was lead by Dr. Alcala who initiated the establishment of the marine reserve. The marine reserve was initially created to increase fish and restore biodiversity of the damage reef to improve the

Being one of the first marine reserve it was created under the initiative of the university and the local community and later on was classified under NIPAS as Protected Landscape and Seascape and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) which take charge over the management of the island by the members from national, provincial, municipal and the local levels.

The creation of the reserve was initially aim is to gain the lost biodiversity. Moreover, it also aims to spill the excess fish outside the no-take zone for the fisher to catch by increasing the fishing yields by fish population.

“The management plan formulated in the mid 1980s aims to: 

  • Prohibit all destructive fishing methods, such as dynamite, cyanide and muro-ami net fishing with weighted scare lines, but allows traditional fishing techniques
  • Ban any extractive practices and anchoring in the sanctuary
  • Protect the coral reef habitat and provide undisturbed breeding sites for fish
  • Prevent fishing around the island by non-residents
  • Preventing all fishing activities and other disturbances within the no-take zone
  • Increase the fish yield by the export of fish from the reserve to fishing areas
  • Encourage tourism”
  1. Planning a system of marine protected areas

The Apo Island was not technically classified as Protected Landscape and Seascape under NIPAS not until the Republic Act 7586 was framed when it was created and adopted the comprehensive system in 1999 by the PAMB but it started from a basic municipal ordinance with the use relation in 1985. The ordinance opts to regain the biodiversity of selected site destroyed coral reef caused destructive fishing.

  1. Site Management

Survey was done by the assistance by the Silliman Marine Laboratory, and then the Silliman University-Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management (SUAKCREM). However, in 1990 after declaration of Apo Island Marine Sanctuary for protection was covered under the NIPAS.

The Municipal Council of Municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental for Apo Island declared the Ordinance approved November 3, 1986.


When the reserve started the community organized volunteer Bantay Dagat that patrols the no-take zone but later on when the community has accepted the no-take zone policy and the positive impacts of the reserve has had on their fish yields the Bantay Dagat became less necessary. Presently Bantay Dagat role is to guard off the reserve from the non-local fishing boats.





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