It came with the last stroke of a pen.

The marine protected area (MPA) network, an intergovernmental protocol that seeks to unify efforts to protect and develop Siargao Island’s marine areas, is finally approved.

The elusive approval came on November 13, 2015, months after the agreement’s wording was finalized, when full support from all of the island’s nine municipalities was secured. This paves the way for the establishment of the MPA network, a climate change adaptation measure being pushed into fruition by PhilCCAP with the help of Orient Integrated Development Consultants, Inc. (OIDCI), a Quezon City-based consultancy firm.

The delay in the approval of the network was largely due to the confusion surrounding the establishment of the Metro Siargao Alliance for Sustainable Development, a new political aggrupation of local government units (LGUs) whose functions seemingly overlapped with that of the MPA network.

The MPA network allows for the joint protection of a larger area of marine areas spread among municipalities, thus taking advantage of the benefits of economies of scale. The network also consolidates law enforcement and monitoring activities, allowing a pooling of resources to effectively carry out such tasks.

Initial activities for the implementers of the MPA network include a study tour to a functioning marine protected area network in Batangas, and the biophysical monitoring for the inventory of marine and coral species of the areas under the network next year.

The marine areas covered by the network belong to the Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (SIPLAS), a conservation area that is home to several aquatic and land flora and fauna. SIPLAS is noted for hosting a highly diversified set of coral lifeform, though a recent assessment showed that as much as 50% of the coral reefs in the area were in poor to fair condition.

SIPLAS was declared a protected area in 1996. #

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