From just over a thousand hectares of marine protected areas (MPA) in 2008, MPAs in the Verde Island Passage now encompasses more than 17,000 hectares of critical habitats, including at least 3,000 hectares of no-take zones, more than 14,000 hectares of fishery reserves (strict hook-and-line areas and fisheries management areas) and more than 300 hectares of mangrove forest conservation areas. MPA site selection and establishment were guided by results of biological and social research and represent the areas that have the most potential for delivering conservation benefits.
The network of Bantay Dagat teams currently works closely with government law enforcement agencies to implement fishery laws in 746,842 hectares of municipal waters, or 66 percent of the total VIP area under the political jurisdiction of the network-member municipalities.
Network of Managers and Enforcers in Verde Passage (as of June 2011):
Batangas MPA Network and Bantay Dagat Network
- 12 Member Municipalities, 1 city
- 36 MPA sites
Oriental Mindoro MPA and Enforcement Network
- 8 Member Municipalities, 1 city
- 18 MPA sites
Lubang and Looc municipalities, Occidental Mindoro
- 2 Member Municipalities
- 15 MPA sites
Local communities are beginning to feel the positive effects of marine conservation, and ecosystems are showing signs of recovery. In certain areas of the VIP, communities have been observing instances of increasing fish catch, improved reef fish abundance, species recovery, enhanced ecotourism income and other benefits that prove the value of marine biodiversity conservation.