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Bacuit Bay


Conservation benefit: Installation of mooring buoys to reduce damage to coral reefs

Date Approved: 06.2013


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

The beautiful island of Palawan, especially the Municipality of El Nido, on its west coast, is having a tourism boom. Some local businesses, such as small-scale resorts and snorkeling and scuba tour operators, profit directly. Others, such as laundry services and high-value vegetable farms, see indirect benefits.

The communities know that tourists come for the beaches and coral reefs. The barangays (villages) of Maligaya, Buena Suerte, Masagana, Aberawan, Manlag, Corong-corong, and Bebeladan have already declared 30 areas as no-take marine protected areas (MPAs), totaling 2,251 acres. Most everyone is trying to protect the reef. In particular, boatmen take care to drop anchor only in designated areas. However, repeated dropping of anchors, even if done on the fringes, still damages the reefs. Moreover, some tourists don’t understand the dos and don’ts of keeping coral damage at a minimum.

The Municipal Tourism Office, the Municipal Tourism Council (private association of guides and resort owners), and the El Nido Foundation plan to install permanent mooring and marker buoys in the MPAs. Boats will be able to tie up without dropping anchors on fragile coral. The groups will also encourage guides to carry cards (in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and other languages), spelling out rules of conduct for tourists. A Seacology grant will fund the purchase and installation of mooring buoys in support of the MPAs.

Project Updates

May 2018

Working with local dive and snorkeling tour operators, ENF has installed the last 21 mooring pins at sites frequently visited by tourist boats. This brings the total number of moorings to 120 and completes the project. ENF is also maintaining the moorings.

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January 2018

The El Nido Foundation has installed 21 more mooring pins at sites frequently visited by tourist boats, bringing the total of mooring pins and buoys to 99. There is continuing difficulty with installing the remaining units, which require special equipment because of the substrate. Delivery of the pins is scheduled for January 2018.

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May 2017

The El Nido Foundation has just placed orders for local fabrication of the first two types (three types are needed) of embedment anchors that will be used.

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January 2017

Our project partners have now gotten financial commitments from the local government unit and the private sector support, and hope to complete the project by the end of 2017.

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May 2016

The local government has approved money to buy the necessary hydraulic machinery. The target completion date is now the end of 2016.

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January 2016

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has not yet released funds to buy the machine necessary to install the remaining anchors. Our partner, the El Nido Foundation, is negotiating with the municipal government of El Nido to explore alternative solutions. The local government might assume some of the cost, recognizing that the community’s tourism industry would benefit from the buoys.

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May 2015

According to Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo, the 78 mooring pins that have been installed are still in place with buoys attached and are being used regularly by tour boats. There are still 38 identified sites where mooring anchors have yet to be installed; several attempts to do so have been made, but the pins were all pulled out after a while. The local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has promised to buy a hydraulic machine that can be used to install a more suitable anchor design, but has not yet released funds for the purchase.

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January 2015

Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo reports that as the end of 2014, 78 mooring pins had been installed in target sites. Progress slowed because some targeted areas were found to be unsuitable. (The substrate was either too hard, making it impossible to embed the pins deep enough, or too sandy, which means that wave action would soon loosen the pins.) The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has come on board to help with a hydraulic machine for use in installing anchor-type moorings. Our partner NGO, the El Nido Foundation, is working on a revised timetable for completing the project.

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June 2014

According to Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo, as of mid-April, 77 mooring pins were installed in 21 sites, with temporary floaters made of recycled materials. Local dive guides and volunteer tourists helped install them. Local establishments have donated, both in kind (meals, some fuel, discounted air tank fill, etc.) and in cash. Floaters imprinted with Seacology and other partners’ logo are scheduled to be launched on May 11 to coincide with the El Nido Foundation’s Board of Trustees visit. Volunteers who participated in the installation will also be recognized.

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