PUERTO PRINCESA in Palawan became a revelation for Haribon Foundation members who conducted their research in the area.
After a year of preparation, the Darwin Initiative 19-020 Project funded by the British Government is finally on its way to see its completion. This one year was used to connect with partners and submit the necessary documents to be able to conduct research in Palawan.
Dubbed as “Responding to fish extirpations on the global marine biodiversity epicentre,” the study was supported by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The project aims to determine species that are locally extinct or extremely depleted; model catch trends over time using statistical tools using data from interviews; historical data and underwater surveys; increase stakeholder capacity in resource management and support sustainable livelihood options in Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur; and make policy recommendations at the local and national level regarding threatened reef and reef-associated fish species. This is being implemented with the Newcastle University.
During the surveys conducted by the team, there were two barangay communities that stood out in tuna-fishing activities, which were fishers in Tagburos and Babuyan. Some fishers move out of the 15-kilometer zone of the municipal waters to catch tuna. Some fishers even reach Tawi-Tawi, Mangsee and Mindoro to catch fish. They catch mameng or the Humphead wrasse (Cheilinusundulatus) and groupers for the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT) and sharks.
Interviewed fishermen revealed that they are banned from fishing in islands frequented by tourist such as Cowrie, Pandan and Snake Islands.
The name of the Brgy. Langongan, our last site for the interviews, came from the word langog, which is the Surigaonon word for jacks and trevallies. According to fishers in Langogan, jacks and trevallies used to be commonly caught in the area hence the name.
Although the team were not able to visit tourist spots like the Underground River, the food that Puerto Princesa is known for was truly enjoyed. To continue research and underwater survey with partners from the Puerto Princesa CAO and WPU, the Haribon team will be returning to the province to continue on with the study. This will also be the last site for the underwater survey after three months of diving underwater.