Tubigon Mangrove Forest
Tubigon is a coastal town with 12 coastal barangays and 6 islands in which 40% of the population relies mainly on fishing as a livelihood. In fact, its economy is largely based on the sea aside from being also northern Bohol’s most important seaport. Passenger and cargo ships ply the Cebu-Bohol route daily.
Mangroves along the coast of Tubigon thrive because of its brackish waters which are spawning,, nursery, feeding and transient shelter for hundreds of fish species, crustaceans and invertebrates in the area. Blue crabs are abundant and this fact is reflected in the municipal seal which bears the picture of a big blue crab on one side.
The mangroves vary in size from shrubs to tall trees and are very visible along the coast near the port of Tubigon. Their tangled and intricate root systems make excellent nurseries, providing safe hiding places for young animals. The muddy waters around them are rich in nutrients coming from decaying leaves and organic matter produced by the mangroves themselves and also from the sediment that is trapped around the roots.
Mangroves are essential to fish production. They are extraordinary rich habitats that serve as life support systems to about 75 percent of fish species caught in the area as well as to indeterminate number of crustaceans and wildlife. A good number of marine fish and invertebrates live in mangrove areas at some stages of their life cycles and consider mangroves as their “homes”. Mangrove loss directly translates to losses in fish catch and food supply.
The Tubigon mangrove forest is expanding, thanks to the efforts of the local government to manage them as well as other coastal resources. Among all the coastal towns of Bohol, it boasts the longest local government experience in managing these coastal resources. In truth, it stands out as the first coastal town in Bohol to have finalized and published a municipal coastal management code, formed one of the most active coastal law enforcement groups in the province, and established the beginnings of a real, community-based, participatory coastal resource management program.
As part of the mangrove management scheme of Tubigon, the DENR, through Bohol’s provincial environment and natural resources officer and the community environment and natural resources officer of Tagbilaran City, awarded a fishers association in Macaas a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) encompassing some 55 hectares of mangrove.
Under the Agreement, the community is given the responsibility of managing the mangrove area and making decisions for its wise management, as well as the preferential right to the economic benefits that may be derived from the area through economic activities that do not harm its natural environment.
Some mangrove friendly livelihood projects are currently being tested through the assistance of the LGU, Logodef and the mangrove component of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) of the DENR. The LGU also initiated the formation and strengthening of fishers associations through organizational capability-building activities.
The organization of fishers often leads to greater cooperation among them, particularly in the implementation of livelihood projects and in the protection of their coastal and marine environment. It also serves to facilitate the availability of financial and technical assistance from the LGU and external sources.
Appreciating these benefits, the municipal government organized the Tubigon fishers associations into a federation. Since Barangay officials usually serve as association advisers or are members themselves, the federation also functions as a forum for discussing and resolving common concerns, including potential resource use conflicts.
Except for a few, most of Tubigon’s coastal villages have attained a high level of awareness of the importance of protecting their marine and coastal environment. Village elders as well as ordinary folk themselves have in a number of instances urged the local government to provide them financial or technical assistance so that they are better able to manage their coastal and marine resources.
It is thus fortunate that the Tubigon municipal council is in full support of coastal management efforts at both the municipal and Barangay levels. The council encourages counterpart-funding arrangements with other agencies for CRM-related activities, and for a number of years now, has regularly allocated an annual CRM budget of more than Php750, 000 out of its municipal budget.
Notwithstanding the significant contributions of shipping to the local economy, the council is seriously considering a proposal to impose user’s fees on passenger and cargo vessels using the town’s municipal waters, and to address the problem of indiscriminate disposal of garbage by passenger and cargo ships.
Given such LGU commitment to CRM, Tubigon has achieved the singular honor of being the first among all of Bohol’s coastal municipalities to have finalized and published its municipal CRM code.
Success in Coastal Management: The Tubigon, Bohol Story by Reigh P. Monreal and Stuart J. Green, DENR – CRMP Bohol
FISH (The Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest) Project, The CRM Interpretive Center, Municipality of Talibon, Bohol
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