Locals grow north Palawan’s first coral and giant clam gardens

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A giant clam in Tecas Marine Reef Sanctuary named after the volunteer who transplanted it. Photo: Noel Guevara/CTI-SEA

Locals open the first interactive coral and giant clam gardens in Taytay Bay as they aim to be the next top ecotourism site in Palawan in 2018.

PALAWAN, Philippines—Taytay officially launches coral and giant clam gardens in Taytay Bay. This activity encourages people to think about new business opportunities as they protect reefs.

Representatives from fisher groups, entrepreneurs, and the local government pledge to carry out operations in the bay. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) support this activity to boost ecotourism in Taytay through the Coral Triangle Initiative – Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA) project.

“It’s the first of its kind in Taytay Bay,” said Dr. Lope A. Calanog, CTI-SEA sustainable finance specialist.

Dr. Calanog added, “The people’s commitment to protecting the reefs is remarkable. They want to address threats to Taytay Bay like illegal fishing and mangrove deforestation. In a few years, they expect a boom in jobs and businesses related to ecotourism.”

The local government, fisher groups, and a resort owner installed coral nurseries in Denot and Talacanen islands. They also built giant clam gardens in Tecas Reef Marine Sanctuary. Taytay and the CTI-SEA project have signed a memorandum of understanding to continue building the underwater gardens.

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From left to right: Joie Matillano, Tourism Officer; Chan Lee de Luna, President, Tourism Council; Flora Fankhauser, Proprietor, Floral Talacanen Island Resort; Merlyn Paculanang, Sangguinang Barangay;  Nerio P. Samaniego, President, Pinagsama-samang Lakas ng Samahang Mangingisda ng Taytay, Palawan, Inc. (PILAKSAMA);  Guillermo L. Morales, Team Leader, CTI-SEA; and  Lope A. Calanog, Sustainable Finance Specialist, CTI-SEA participate in the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Agreement to implement the gardens in Taytay Bay.

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According to the Western Philippines University, Taytay’s natural resources are valued to about Php 53 million per year. Around 88% or Php 47 million of this can come from tourism.

Thus, Taytay Bay is developing a more dynamic ecotourism master plan. With this, more people will understand that they can earn a living without extracting too much from the sea.

In August 2015, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF) identified “experiential tourism” as an emerging trend at the Sustainable Marine Tourism Conference in Bali, Indonesia. In “experiential tourism,” visitors connect to a place’s culture, history, and people. Through this, they can draw out meaningful travel experiences. Soon, Terrific Taytay will offer this kind of immersion to travelers.

The CTI-SEA is a project funded by ADB and GEF. It aims to improve the resilience of communities living near the coasts in light of the changing climate. The project helps local authorities and families manage their natural resources for a better future.

The Coral Triangle is the most biodiverse area in the world in terms of marine life. It spans Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. The CTI-CFF is an intergovernmental agreement that aims to protect the Coral Triangle.

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