Tuesday,March 31, 2020

SMARTSeas PH Project

Strengthening Marine Protected Areas to Conserve Marine Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines (SMARTSeas PH Project)

Project Manager: Dr. Vincent Hilomen


The United Nations Development Programme in the Philippines, through the support from Global Environment Facility, partners with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau, to implement the SMARTSeas PH Project, a five-year project (USD 8 million, 2014 to 2019) that aims to accelerate the establishment of marine protected areas and MPA networks to include more marine key biodiversity areas (MKBAs).

Despite multi-sectoral efforts to abate the threats on marine and coastal habitat degradation, big challenges remain at hand including inadequate bio-geographic representation and spatial coverage, insufficient funding for marine conservation efforts, and weak institutional framework that support the conservation, protection, and management of countrys marine ecosystem.

SMARTSeas Project focuses to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. improved management effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPA) and MPA network;
  2. improved financial sustainability of management of MPA and MPA network; and
  3. establish enabling policy framework for marine biodiversity conservation.

The SMARTSeas PH includes the establishment of biodiversity-friendly enterprise as one of the major results of the project since it aims to provide sustainable alternative livelihood to coastal communities.

The three outcomes will capacitate the local government unit leaders and peoples organizations on MPA management by helping them improve their management plans and reactivate the MPA management body. The MPA management plans are inclusive of gender, indigenous people, and climate change adaptation components.

SMARTSeas has five demonstration sites in the Philippines including Verde Island Passage, Southern Palawan, Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, Lanuza Bay, and Davao Gulf. Each site will showcase different thematic areas in forming a sustainable MPA network.

SMARTSeas Project Sites with Project Implementation Partners

Further, local and national policy reviews were conducted to identify the gaps on legal framework that is necessary to sustain the conservation initiatives like SMARTSeas PH. Science-based initiatives are also being conducted including the connectivity study in each site to determine the ecological interconnectedness of the individual MPAs that will form a network.


17 Sightings Recorded in recent Cetacean survey in the Davao Gulf (WWF- Philippines – SMARTSeas PH 2018)

Most noteworthy observation of this survey are the two sightings of pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) which have never before been recorded for the Gulf, a pod of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorynchus) with a breaching individual, and four sightings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), the largest of the toothed whales. There were also numerous sightings of the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) this year unlike in the 2016 survey where sightings of this species were few and fleeting.


Sources and Further Readings



SMARTSea FB Account