As part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported research activity in Palawan promoting sandfish (Holothuria scabra) - a variety of sea cucumber - as a profitable source of livelihood for coastal communities, representatives from local partners of the Protect Wildlife Project recently visited the Bolinao Marine Laboratory in Pangasinan to learn from a sustainable community-based model of sandfish sea ranching.

The laboratory, run by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, took the study tour participants from Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Palawan, the local government of Narra, Palawan, and community members to ocean nursery and sea ranching sites. They were trained on sea ranching protocols; proper handling, sorting and release of sandfish juveniles; and advanced nursery rearing in hapa nets and pens. The visit was also an opportunity to learn effective strategies on sandfish resource management as practiced by communities and local governments in Pangasinan.

The study tour is part of Protect Wildlife’s strategy of boosting the technical capacities of local partners in biodiversity research to help improve livelihoods of local communities in Palawan. The success of the sea ranching research can benefit indigenous and fishing communities who rely on sandfish harvest as their alternative livelihood, which in turn can reduce unsustainable and destructive practices in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Sea ranching can also help restock dwindling sandfish populations in their natural environment. (PWP/ Lawrence San Diego)


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