Located in the coral triangle - the richest reef zone in the world - Palawan possesses a unique marine ecosystem sheltering several hundred coral species. However, decades of slash-&-burn agriculture, over-fishing and destructive, illegal fishing practices have destroyed the reef structure. These pressures have not only resulted in a decline in reef diversity, but also a decline in the fish stocks that depend on it. As a result, the food security of the local population is also at stake.
Over several years, the private Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation (SEF) has applied innovative techniques to restore the reef, and these have already delivered convincing results. The exemplary nature of Pangatalan Island in the Palawan archipelago led to its being awarded the first “SMILO Sustainable Small Island” accreditation in 2018.
After acquiring and restoring the terrestrial environment on Pangatalan Island, the SEF established a protected marine area in Shark Fin Bay which is implementing an innovative local restoration technique: Sulu-Reef prostheses. These provide very effective support for natural recolonisation, enabling the natural propagation of corals and creation of new habitats.
The SEF is also associating these restoration activities with community-based environmental conservation actions, education and knowledge-sharing. Shark Fin Bay is home to a shared experiment titled “The Academy of the Sea” in which three waterside villages are given a marine protected area, with the villagers themselves learning how to restore the coral.
The challenge is finding the right formula for an economic and ecological model that is as reproducible as possible: initially in the bay, where Frédéric Tardieu - Foundation President - hopes to create ten shared marine areas by 2025. Followed by the rest of Palawan. And potentially, the whole Coral Triangle.
Extract from the LeMonde article