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El Nido, Tres Marias


Conservation and community benefit: Community-based coral reef restoration and education program

Date Approved: 07.2003


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

The three small uninhabited islands known as Tres Marias lie off beautiful Palawan Island. The marine area surrounding them is part of El Nido’s community fishing ground and is popular with recreational divers. But the area’s fish populations are declining, and the coral reef is degraded.

In response, ten El Nido villages are establishing marine no-take zones totaling approximately 2,000 acres. Working with the El Nido Foundation, Seacology is providing 600 EcoReef modules to help coral grow and restore the reef.

Project Updates

November 2014

In October, Seacology program managers visited the Tres Marias site and saw that almost ten years after the artificial reef units were installed, they are barely visible because they are covered with healthy coral.

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June 2006

In April 2006 a Seacology delegation visited the island of Palawan in the Philippines to assist in the installation of the first 100 EcoReef modules. Over 100 community volunteers worked with the Seacology delegation to install the EcoReef units. The Philippines Air Force did several flyovers in a helicopter, and the Philippines navy sent a small boat. The installation received front-page coverage in the major newspaper of the Philippines.

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January 2006

The EcoReefs are scheduled to be installed in April 2006, to coincide with a visit from a Seacology expedition.

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July 2005

Marine conservation education, community networking and consultations have been completed in 15 coastal communities in the Bacuit Bay area. 15 no-take zones totaling 962 hectares of reef and surrounding area have now been determined and are being formalized by the villages and zoning departments. Plans for the rest of 2005 include conducting a series of reef education and coastal management education programs in the villages to further strengthen the long-term success of the project. The EcoReef restoration portion of the project is estimated to begin in late 2005 and early 2006.

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January 2005

Validation of the marine zone areas in conjunction with governmental and nongovernmental agencies is taking place. Community groundwork, networking and consultations have been completed in 14 coastal communities in the vicinity of Bacuit Bay. These consultations became a venue for coral reef education and a forum for community leaders to decide where to create no-take zones. Fifteen zones have now been determined. Another round of consultations and more specific planning for the EcoReef portion of the project is underway. It is estimated that reef restoration can begin in spring 2005.

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