The following projects are projects we have currently running or are part of continuous efforts by MCP. Only the larger projects are described. Activities like the continuous beach cleanups and smaller projects on base that have to do with improving the facilities are not explained.
Baseline Study of Indicator Fish Species
One of our main activities is monitor the coast of Zamboanguita and parts of Dauin and Siaton. We do this to show the changes is the amount of species and amount of animals/plants along the coast, which gives us an idea of the effectiveness of the protection that is put in place, and shows us possible threats as well. This will help policy makers more effectively manage the protected areas reduce those threats.
As regulating fisheries and over-fishing is the most important factor in protecting the ecosystems here, we first focused on monitoring fish species. But as there are over 300 fish species in the Philippines, we cannot look at all the fish species at the same time, especially since many of our volunteers are not trained scientists. We would therefore only like to look at a subset of species, which are ecologically or commercially important, or are indicative of a specific threat. This way, we can make the monitoring less complicated. This selection of species is our set of “indicator species”.
In order to select these species we first needed to know which species are present, and how many individuals of each species we see at the different locations. This is what we did in our “baseline” study of all species.
Aside from giving us information on all the fish species present at the different locations, and the differences between those locations in the amount of fish for each species, this baseline study also allows us to compare later results for these species with the data we gather now, allowing us to show changes over time. To keep the method as simple as possible, and to make it less sensitive to differences between researchers and observation distance, we used the Rapid Visual Census method as described in Hill and Wilkinson (2004)1. To simplify it further, we only monitored a few families at a time, making teaching the species of these families to volunteers a lot easier.
The disadvantage of this method was that it took a long time to monitor all the sites thoroughly, especially since we want to analyse the data statistically, requiring multiple surveys per site. The advantage though is that it allowed us to survey at a high level of detail, while still making it manageable for volunteers to be trained in a relatively short period of time.