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Maite Village


Conservation benefit: Protection of 26-acre no-take marine sanctuary, including coral reef and seagrass, for 10 years

Community benefit: New guardhouse

Date Approved: 06.2022


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


This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

Maite is a coastal barangay (village) of about 1,100 people. Most families make a living by fishing and running small businesses such as stores, restaurants, or lodgings for tourists on the side. In the early 2000s, their livelihoods were seriously threatened by outsiders, who came to the area and used destructive fishing methods such as dynamite and fine-net fishing.

People in Maite lobbied for their own protected area, and the 16-acre Maite Marine Sanctuary was set aside. It is home to the diverse marine life typical of Philippine coral reefs, including damsel fish, angel fish, octopuses, nudibranchs, and various species of crab. There are also seagrass meadows.

Two years later, the Maite Resources Development Association (MRDA) was formed to manage the sanctuary. Two-thirds of the group’s 50 members are women. Through the association’s efforts, the sanctuary has been expanded to 26 acres. MRDA members enforce the no-take rules of the marine sanctuary. Using kayaks, they silently paddle to the boats of illegal fishermen while the divers are underwater, and call the authorities to apprehend them.

The MRDA members run the organization on a shoestring, charging divers and snorkelers a small user fee. The women also make “seaweed chips” to sell to tourists. But pandemic travel restrictions stopped tourism almost entirely. When strict quarantines were in place, MRDA members managed to earn enough to cover their operating expenses by catering food at barangay and municipal meetings. Then in 2021, category-5 Typhoon Odette severely damaged the small bamboo-and-plywood guardhouse the MRDA had used as a base for its enforcement activities. There was no money for repairs.

The MRDA will use a Seacology grant to build a sturdier concrete guardhouse. The building will serve not only as a place to store kayaks and hold meetings, but also as a strong, visible symbol of the community’s commitment to protecting its resources.

Project Updates

February 2023

The new beachfront guardhouse displays prominent signs showing the fines for violating the marine sanctuary rules by, for example, fishing in the protected area. Members of the Maite Resource Development Association (34 women and 21 men) are keeping up their surveillance of the sanctuary. No poaching has occurred recently.

Field representative Ferdie Marcelo attended the opening ceremony for the guardhouse in January. Evelyn Malicay, one of the guiding forces behind the MPA, told Ferdie that fish are plentiful in the protected area now—and Ferdie saw lots of them jumping. Tourists are returning to the area. The fees they pay to swim, snorkel, and dive will pay for upkeep of the guardhouse.

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