Sustaining the Mangrove Rehabilitation Initiatives and Livelihood Enhancement in (SMILE) – Sibuguey Bay

Scope of area:

10 coastal barangays in 3 municipalities of Ipil, R.T. Lim and Tungawan in Zamboanga Sibugay Province

Founder: Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PTFCF)


Project rationale


Sibuguey Bay is one of the two (2) bays found in the province of Zambonga Sibugay. Bordered by eight (8) coastal municipalities of Tungawan, R.T. Lim , Ipil, Naga, Kabasalan, Siay, Payao and Talusan, it plays a vital role in terms of supplying the fish needs of about 330,000 Sibugaynons (based on 2010 NSO project population). Decades ago, Sibuguey Bay is one of the country’s richest fishing grounds. But recently, a report published in 2003 under the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) entitled “Philippine Fisheries in Crisis: A Framework for management” (Chapter 2, p9) identified Sibuguey Bay as over-fished or heavily exploited with more than 70 fishers fishing per square kilometer area. These fishermen rely mainly on gill nets, hook and line, crab pots and seaweeds farming for a living. But what compound the situation is the bay’s further degradation due to the intrusion of commercial fishing boats, proliferation of destructive fishing gears, rampant use of dynamite and the destruction of corals and mangroves. These pressures have greatly reduced the productivity of the areas. Fishermen fish catch had been reduced significantly from 50 kilograms to just 5 kilograms.


When the new province of Zambianga Sibugay was created from the mother province of Zambanga Del Sur in 2001, there have been an influx of foreign-assisted projects (FAPs) bringing with it a new paradigm particularly with bias on resource conservation and management particularly on coastal management. Forum and inter-municipal consultations to create a Bay-wide Unified Fishery Ordinance were also conducted. Fish sanctuaries were established along critically endangered areas in most of the coastal municipalities. However, the interventions of most of these projects are limited to technical assistance usually in crafting of development plans. There have been no significant funds allocated for hard projects for example, mangrove planting or support to livelihood projects resulting into poor community support. In most cases, fund allocated by LGU’s for projects like these are minimal and does not really produce impact.


The success of the 2 previous mangrove rehabilitation projects of Xavier Science Foundation (XSF) through the Xavier Agricultural Extension Service (XAES) and PTFCF which employs a different approach were the reasons why the neighboring municipalities of R.T. Lim and Tungawan expressed their willingness to participate in the project.


Project objectives

  • Reforest a total of 180 ha of denuded mangrove, open space areas and abandoned fishponds in 10 sites over a period of 2 years
  • Conduct capacity building interventions to strengthen 10 fisher folks organizations to support over-all efforts in the protection, conservation and sustainable utilization of coastal resources including mangrove forest
  • Promote sustainable aqua-marine based technologies
  • Secure tenurial instruments for unsecured areas
  • Generate full support from the local government units of Ipil, R.T. Lim and Tungawan as well as other government and non-government agencies
  • Maintain and protect previously planted mangrove under REDEEM and PROTECT projects
  • Secure P700,000 worth of cash and in-kind counterpart generated from the three (3) LGUs to cover for livelihood and direct support funds to the project for the first year
  • Increase fish and marine stocks of the area
  • Increase income of fisher folks by 20%
  • Document the problems and lessons learned from previous project
  • Ensure the transfer of skills and knowledge on mangrove conservation to the community after the project time frame


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