Many existing networking have been supporting coastal resources management (CRM) and coral reef conservation work (White et al. 2006a). A considerable portion of CRM work in the Philippines has been in marine protected areas (MPA), albeit much of these are small relative to the appropriate size needed for protection of stocks to achieve sustainable development objectives. Nevertheless, these efforts have been the wellspring of good practices and important seeds for scaling up CRM to the overall Philippine Archipelagic Agenda and opportunities for sustaining mechanisms. Previous efforts to gauge the management effectiveness of MPAs in the Philippines have noted that only around 15% of all the initiatives have reached the desired levels of management. In the recent years improvements in MPA management have been seen (White et al. 2006b; Maypa et al. 2012) and one of the impetus to sustain management are seen in efforts where incentives are in place (e.g. enforcer benefits and recognition, Aliño et al. 2001).
A group (ca October 2005) of like-minded institutions and individuals formed the MPA Support Network (MSN) that seeks to provide support to local initiatives by linking this national social networking for MPAs contribute to the Philippine Marine Sanctuary Strategy (PhilMarSaSt). One important component of the MSN support activities is the leveraging of technical and financial support to local initiatives of MPA through performance based incentives systems (e.g. PhilReefs 2001). The MSN with its partner institutions seek to:
- Document best practices in MPA management and establish standards and performance systems
- Leveraging support from private and public partnerships
- Mainstream institutional arrangements that will help sustain management coordination at various local and national initiatives
The MPA awards and recognition of MPA champions, continue previous efforts in the past (e.g. reef awards [PhilReefs 2001] and Best CRM Municipality) and eventually institutionalize these incentives as part of the adaptive management approach to accelerate its effectiveness, sustain efforts in MPA management and enhance benefits of site management efforts (PhilMarSaSt 2004).
Various complementary approaches are seen by MSN in its networking approach through establishing the incentive systems, its social marketing approach, forging partnerships and leveraging technical and financial assistance. We outline below the MSN process that links the incentive systems (e.g. awards and recognition) to the overall capacity building and social marketing efforts to enhance, accelerate and improve overall MPA management in order to achieve the desired outcomes of contributing to the overall sustainable development effort in the country.
MSN: Networking, nominations and selection process
The regional series of regional forums being organized under MSN seeks to enjoin further partnerships among the potential beneficiaries for support (e.g. LGU and PO) and the MSN partners. This is going to be undertaken through various capacity building and training assessment needs analyses process and follow through of technical assistance in the priority areas. The conditions of management, their prevailing threats and management are described and documented in these agreements. In these regional forums nominations are elicited from the participants to be entered into the whole MSN good practice documentation and incentives system. The nominations process will be refined in the various regional consultations but will at the minimum require them to fill up the MPA Report Card and the nomination forms.
The Para El MAR (MPA Awards & Recognition) Event
The Marine Protected Areas) will be utilized by MSN to refine its social marketing strategy to leverage support (e.g. conditional grants to donors and other support mechanisms e.g. including individual pledges and in-kind contributions) to these sites. The Philippine Association Marine Scientists [PAMS, please see below item 4] has been involved to serve as the independent evaluator for the selection process for the MPA Awards Recognition (MAR) Event.
Linkaging partnerships through the regional forum and institutional mainstreaming
Being consistent with the action planning process in the MSN, the regional forums have been an important venue to take stock and evaluate the status of MPA management its issues and problems and desired responses that could be feasibly undertaken. In addition, follow up forums are being undertaken to provide mentoring of site facilitators and managers in reviewing their management plans with proposed options for adjustments; training of M&E and leveraging financial and other resource assistance support (e.g. enforcement and logistic support). Another crucial support needed to fill in the gaps is through institutionalization of partnership agreements of private and public collaboration efforts through covenants (e.g. sharing of management costs and benefits), incentives (tax reductions) and standards (e.g. certifications).