Facts About the Marine Resources of San Vicente, Palawan, Philippines
About the Place
San Vicente is a coastal municipality located in the northwestern coast (10o32’N, 119o16’E) of Palawan, Philippines. It has a fishing ground zone of about 140,805.50 hectares which is equivalent to 46% of its total area. Based on the 2010 NSO Census, its population was 30,565 with a growth rate of 6 percent (www.sanvicentepalawan.com.ph).
Fishing and farming are the major economic activities of the municipality. These livelihood activities comprise 29.50% and 25.77%, respectively. However, occupations associated with coastal tourism is an emerging industry in San Vicente, Palawan (SVP). The place is endowed with outstanding natural beauty such as waterfalls, high marine biodiversity, and white sand beaches particularly the 14-kilometer long beach from the town proper (poblacion) to the northeastern barangay of Alimanguan.
A study was conducted to inquire into the interactions of physical characteristics of the area, its marine habitat and resources vis-à-vis governance and socio-economic benefits of small-scale fishers in San Vicente, Palawan, Philippines. The investigation was conducted from November 2010 to June 2011 as an offshoot of the coastal resource management interventions in 1997 and 1999. The study used key informants’ interview and focused group discussion. It was followed by a stakeholders’ validation.
Physical Characteristics of San Vicente
The coastal municipality of San Vicente is composed of ten barangays, 22 islands and islets and four major fishing grounds. It has a passive continental margin characterized by wide and shallow continental shelves and numerous coral reefs depicting an excellent seascape (Figure 1).
Fig.1. Coastal clear waters in Pensawan-Barombong, Port Barton, SVP.
Its coastline, excluding the islands, is about 170 km of white sand beaches, coconut trees, forest trees, mangroves and rock outcrops, among others. Average sea surface temperature ranged from 27.9oC (March) to 31.3oC (July).
Fisheries Resources and Potential
Considering its diverse fishery resources and habitats, the potential of San Vicente to be a sustainable fishing and ecotourism community is great. The findings of previous studies (SUML, 1997 and Arquiza, 1999) indicated 160 species of finfishes, squids and octopi; 163 species of corals; 22 species of mangroves; 96 species of algae and 8 species of sea grasses were present in the area.
Recent findings indicated 23 new fish species from 21 families added to the previous list of finfishes in the area. There were 2,659 fishers with 3,590 fishing boats, of which 60% of the boats were motorized. Eight major fishing gears were operating in municipal waters (0 to 15 km. from shoreline), of which three were active and five were passive gears. The average catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) ranged from 24.2 kg/trip to 277.5 kg/trip for passive and active gears, respectively.Some of the species caught in San Vicente, Palawan (Figure 2).
Fig.2. Squids (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) are abundant in SVP.
Fisheries management bodies were in place and to some extent successful. About one-third of the coastal residents were dependent on fisheries as their major source of livelihood. Restoring habitats to its excellent condition would result to a fisheries potential of about 7,040.2 metric tons per year, which is 4.5 times higher than the current fisheries harvest in San Vicente. The low fish production was mainly attributed to the use of active gears in municipal waters, which the local government unit planned to ban by the end of Year 2012.
These resources, if properly managed, would provide sustained socio-economic benefits to the community.
Arquiza, Y.D. 1999. Rhythm of the sea: Coastal environmental profile of San Vicente, Palawan. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNACJ112.pdf. [7 May 2011].
SUML, 1997.Status of the coastal resources of the San Vicente, Palawan learning site.Dumaguete City: Silliman University Marine Laboratory and Center of Excellence in Coastal Resources Management. 176p.
©2012 March 29 Hermenegildo P. Dela Peña