The Malampaya Sound Land and Seascape Protected Area
This protected area is the youngest to the brood of six proclaimed Protected Areas in Palawan by virtue of the NIPAS Law. It was proclaimed in July 12, 2000 per Presidential Proclamation # 342 signed by President Joseph E. Estrada. This proclamation was warranted due to it sunique, distinct and scientifically significant ecological features.
Located at the northwestern part of the Province covering an area of about 200,155 hectares 56% (111,379 has.), the Malampaya Sound and Seascape Protected Area is made up of terrestrial and coastal /marine areas. Thus, it is ecologically and economically important both as a watershed and a rich fishing ground. In the past, it is dubbed as the s”Fishbowl of the Philippines” a cliché’ that Palawan as a whole is rich in marine resources. It is made up of a number of habitats and eco-systems such as tropical lowland forest, old growth mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds and coastal beaches. The area abounds with flora and fauna including species endemic to Palawan.
Interestingly, it is also known habitat of the bottle-nosed and Irrawady Dolphins, attesting to its rich biodiversity and uniqueness.
The Sound is divided into two sections namely the Inner and Outer Sounds. Approximately, 13 islands separate the two sections. Its shoreline is flanked with mangroves and swamps. The brackish waters of the Sound is rich with zooplankton biomass and is suitable for the propagation of the shellfish production for commercial purposes and for establishment of tourism industries, national marine parks and reserves. Apparently, the Sound does not only offers significant ecological features but also livelihood opportunities for its surrounding communities
More than 156 species of fish are found in the Sound wherein 60 species are considered first class that command high commercial value. Unfortunately however, latest coastal survey results indicated that the coral cover has deteriorated to only 17% live coral cover. This is one reason why the need to protect this fishing ground. Malampaya Sound Protected Land and Seascape covers 22 barnagays, 18 of which are within the political boundary of Taytay and the rest within San Vicente. Human population around the Sound numbered to 27,828 which is expected to increase fast as the in-migration incidence is high. Annual growth rate accounts to 6.65%. Indigenous people, mostly Tagbanua are also stakeholders of the Sound. Most of these IP’s are situated in about 7 barangays, one site of which is covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC).
Seventy percent(70%) of the population are primarily engaged in fishing and secondarily in farming. Others are engaged into agriculture and seaweed culture and fish caging.
The Sound is one of the eight selected sites in the Philippines under the National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP), a special project of the DENR supported through a grant from the European Union, Since Palawan has a SEP Law, a co-management scheme between the DENR and PCSD prevails.
Consistent with the guidelines of the NIPAS, a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is responsible for the overall management of the PA. The Board is a multi-sectoral body composed of about 47 representations from BFAR, DENR, PCSDS, LGU, NGO’s, IP’s and PO’s. It is co-chaired by the Executive Director of the PCSDS and the Regional Executive Director of DENR.
“Towards a cooperative effort in managing and sustainably developing Malampaya Sound Protected Land and Seascape, respecting the rights of the people, making them aware and enabling them to live progressive lives as a result of well-maintained and life-giving natural resources”, is the ultimate vision of the PAMB.
To attain this vision, the Board is presently implementing several programs and projects geared towards protecting Malampaya’s unique environment to ensure a better quality of life for its surrounding communities and stakeholders. Said goal is anchored on nine programs namely: Ecosystems Management, Protection and Law Enforcement, Institutional Development, Research and Monitoring, Stakeholders Awarenesss, Local Community Development, Visitor and Tourist Management, Regional Integration and Financial Sustainability.
Barely six months old in December 2000, the PAMB was preoccupied with preliminary activities to ensure a better foundation for the protection and management of the Sound