Study Sites

Bolinao and surrounding coastal zone, Pangasinan PHILIPPINES

The Bolinao reef system is classified as a true fringing reef area. Located along the northwestern coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines, it is one of the 16 municipalities surrounding the entire water body of Lingayen Gulf. It is connected to the South China Sea through the western part of the Luzon Sea.

The intertidal reef system is characterized by reef flat and reef slope areas. In the reef flat, a relatively deep coastal lagoon exists near the shoreline, decreasing in depth northwards until the reef crest and then increasing again in depth at the reef slope offshore. Santiago Island, the largest of the reef complex islands occupies the largest reef flat area, is dominated by dense sea grass beds and corals. Areas along the eastern side of the Santiago Island reef flat were found to be good potential breeding grounds for larvae based from initial numerical simulations.

The inside lagoon have been the site for intensive and extensive aquaculture of Chanos chanos (milk fish) being sold locally and in Metropolitan Manila. The uncontrolled proliferation of fish pens and fish cages for aquaculture had contributed to the nutrient enrichment in the area to levels critical for rapid deterioration of the coastal ecosystem.

Puerto Galera-Verde Island Passage, Mindoro PHILIPPINES

Puerto Galera
Puerto Galera, located in Mindoro Island, Philippines, is a cove-like coastal lagoon covering the area of about 4 km2. The lagoon is at the middle of Verde Island Passage that connects South China Sea and Sibuyan Sea. It is well known not only for its ideal condition as a natural harbor but also as one of the most renowned dive spots in the Philippines. The coral reefs and other marine resources inside the lagoon contain diverse marine inhabitants. The lagoon abounds with rich biodiversity in tropical marine flora and fauna including coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves. In 1977, this area was designated as a Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve, an international recognition given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of its priceless importance worldwide in the preservation of the natural environment and conservation of biodiversity. Verde Island Passage on the other hand is referred to as “the center of the center” of global marine diversity for its variety of marine inhabitants.

Such recognition has drawn attention from both local and international tourists that eventually led to a thriving tourism industry. Demands of the growing local population and influx of visitors in the recent years however have compelled citizens to resort in unregulated development activities (Fortes, 1997). The Puerto Galera and Verde Island Passage coastal environments are now under environmental stress from the significant anthropogenic waste loads.

Guimaras Strait and surrounding coastal zone, Western Visayas PHILIPPINES

Guimaras Strait is located between the islands of Panay and Negros and is considered one of the most productive fishing grounds in the Philippines. The area has been identified to have an average annual fish production of 50,000 metric tons and supplies a significant percentage of the fisheries demand of the country.

The high concentration of people combined with rapid economic development in the coastal areas of the region has produced many economic benefits, including improved transportation links, urban development, and revenue from tourism and food production. However, the same factors are threatening the ecosystems that are critical to providing these benefits. The coastal environments of the region are under increasing anthropogenic pressures as a result.

In 2007, a massive oil spill incident occurred in Guimaras Strait off the coast of Guimaras and Negros Occidental provinces. The oil spill was said to have adversely affected marine sanctuaries and mangrove reserves in three out of five municipalities in Guimaras Island and reached the shores of Iloilo and Negros Occidental. Scientists warned of the long-term effects of the disaster to reefs and mangroves of the area, crucial to the seafood production of the region.

Naawan and Lopez Jaena, Mindanao PHILIPPINES

Lopez Jaena
Naawan and Lopez Jaena are rural municipalities located in the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Misamis Occidental Philippines respectively. Both are coastal towns surrounding Iligan Bay in Mindanao. Compared to the other four CECAM study sites, Naawan and Lopez Jaena share a relatively more pristine coastal environments ideal for ecological connectivity studies.

Manila Bay-Laguna Lake, Luzon PHILIPPINES

Laguna Lake
Manila Bay and Laguna Lake are among the most important bodies of water in the Philippines in terms of economic and environmental significance. Strategically situated adjacent to the center of urban activity Metro Manila, the Bay/Lake system is the focal point of national development efforts for its vast potential for multi-purpose use. The system provides a variety of environmental goods and services to the surrounding communities that extend to other stakeholders inside and outside the basin. Manila Bay, considered one of the finest harbors in the world, facilitates the country’s international trade and commerce, and offers numerous livelihood opportunities to millions which include fisheries, aquaculture, and agriculture among others.

Laguna Lake on the other hand is a multi-purpose water resource for aquaculture, irrigation, flood control, domestic water supply, navigation, power generation, and industrial cooling. Both ecosystems are home to a rich biodiversity and a wealth of biological resource. Mismanagement and overexploitation due to urbanization and population growth however have taken toll on their ecological integrity and economic value. A major concern is increased environmental loads coming largely from untreated waste in the watershed. Degradation in environmental quality has significantly resulted to lower fish production and increase incidences of bottom anoxia, harmful algal blooms and associated fish kills.

In the dry season, when Laguna Lake water level falls below mean sea level, seawater may penetrate the lake through Pasig River. Under this condition therefore, Laguna Lake becomes a brackish water lake, which promotes fishery and aquaculture but however introduces high organic and nutrient waste load from coastal Manila Bay and urban Metro Manila at the same time.