Philippines Policy Analysis: Assessing community needs   

A key goal of the SES project is to influence policy change in order to strengthen existing environmental policies and integrate seagrass conservation at local, regional and national levels in the Indo-Pacific region.

To achieve this, all of the SES Project partners are conducting a policy gap analysis in conjunction with community needs assessments, the results of which are used to inform government and influence environmental policy change.

In March 2021, our partners in the Philippines, C3 and ZSL, began the community consultations in Roxas, and Ulugan Bay, Palawan, to identify conservation priorities within the coastal communities they are working with.

In order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, instead of community-wide workshops, C3 carried out size-limited focus groups, while ZSL interviewed a broad range of community members involved in fishing and ecotourism, local enforcement members, and representatives of the district council.

These discussions aimed to generate information needed to promote appropriate policies and regulation for effective management of ecosystems by looking at the causes of environmental problems and the resultant pressures, associated impacts and responses needed to resolve and manage specific environmental challenges.

The results show that the fishing communities in these areas are witnessing several issues, including unregulated fishing, lack of enforcement of existing marine protected areas, and pollution. Fishers report these issues are resulting in the degradation of coastal ecosystems, including seagrass, coral reefs and mangroves, and a decline in fisheries.

Over the next few months, C3 and ZSL will work with these coastal communities and local government agencies to identify and implement practical solutions, such as developing new conservation policies and improving capacity for marine protected area management.