by Marina Trajkovich
In the small fishing village of Makinit, in the province of Coron island, local fishermen, lifeguards and rangers work hard to protect the local islands and reefs.
The fishermen know that the reef is fragile and that their livelihoods and even food supply for generations to come depend on protecting the environment and stopping illegal fishing.
The marine ecosystems are still recovering from practices that involve dumping cyanide and dynamite into the reef and coral ecosystems still feel the blows of irresponsible fishing up to 20 years later.
Bobby Ortego, a local fisherman who has also transitioned into the tourism industry takes snorkel enthusiasts and visitors around the islands on his yellow, glass-bottomed boat.
He understands the importance of reef conservation for future generations.
“It’s very very important for us especially the people who live here. It’s important not to use dynamite and cyanide because corals are easily dying.”
“The recovery of corals takes many years. So very important for us dynamite and cyanide stops.”
The number of fishes are going down.some fishermen are using cyanide and dynamite, not all of the fisherman but there are some people.”
There are more tourists coming to Coron than ever before, providing jobs and money that can help support reef rehabilitation.
We are always saying telling them, don’t step on the corals if there is garbage pick it up, don’t step on the coral, if you see it on the corals the garbage, pick it up,” says blah blah
For the local life guards, rangers and fishers who guard the Siete Pecados marine park,and its visitors, monitoring the reef is a twenty-four seven job.
Daniel, a 20-year-old local who works the 6am- 3pm shift enjoys his job because he gets to relax on the water and is making an impact for the villages future generations.
“Because if you use dynamite fishing always everyday on the reef in this ocean, in the future you no have, nothing to eat with no fish. If you use dynamite everyday, no food for the fisher, no food for the kids, they don’t have future.” He says.
“The tourists, they come here and every time we talk to them they always say thecolours here are so beautiful there are lots of kinds of fishes that’s why welove it also.”
“That’s why we protect here for the future also.”
“10 people here in the morning and I think three or four people in the evening to do the night shift.
Because sometimes in the night people are fishing here, so that’s why you need some people here to guard the reef and look if something is happening,” he says.
Don Don, another life guard, says that although dynamite and cyanide fishing doesn’thappen at the park anymore since it became protected, there are those who stillfish illegally.
“The first offence will be turned over to Barangay, and then second offence will be going to municipal ordinance then the third offence is going to jail,” he says.
Gary Fuentebella, a Calamaianes Conservation and Cultural Networks volunteer says that without the protected area and focus on sustainability, the reef would be in danger. That he locals respect and care for the land is paramount to maintaining the way of life and livelihoods of the village.
“Without this marine protected area, the whole island, the whole coral system there will be banished.”