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Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017 - Contrasting Areas for Priority of Protection


Abstract and Figures

In 2016, the rural municipality of Toboso, Philippines, underwent its first assessment of coastal ecosystem health and diversity, as part of an effort by the municipal government and stakeholders to implement a Marine Protected Area. The present paper provides an in-depth comparison between an area currently proposed by the municipal body (PMPA) and an alternate area (AMPA) first proposed in 2016. Both areas show extensive differences across the entire data range, with the AMPA hosting a far greater total diversity of species, diversity of fish and corals and total hard coral cover. Additionally, the AMPA site supported greater numbers of ecologically and economically important fish and invertebrate fauna, though still showing indications of a heavily overfished ecosystem. Surveys were also carried out in local fish markets to assess the role of local coral reefs in the overall fishery at Toboso. These findings increase the total number of faunal taxa recorded from Toboso from 435 species to 589, and 73 species of marine associated flora. Also documented is the first record in the Philippines of the skeleton forming octocoral genus Nanipora.
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Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2016
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Contrasting Areas for Priority of Protection
Rahul Mehrotra
Ellen Grace Funesto
Spencer Arnold and
Sarocha Pakeenuya
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Contrasting Areas for Priority of Protection
Rahul Mehrotra, Ellen G. Funesto, Spencer Arnold and Sarocha Pakeenuya
Preliminary Ecological Assessment Project
Supported by Worldreef Toboso New Heaven Reef Conservation Program, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok,
University of the Philippines, Cebu, and Conservation Diver.
This paper represents the work by the authors and all opinions expressed are those of the authors alone. Copyright of
all material included in this work is retained by the authors including all figures, tables and photographs, which were
taken by the authors personally. All photographs were taken at Toboso during the course of the data collection.
Photographs for all species listed in the Appendices are held at Worldreef, Toboso, and copyright for all photographs
is retained by the photographers, unless stated otherwise by Worldreef, Toboso. This report is aimed at people with
varying degrees of scientific understanding and background, from interested non-academics and representatives of the
local governing body, to active biologists and marine biologists around the world.
In 2016, the rural municipality of Toboso, Philippines, underwent its first assessment of coastal ecosystem health and
diversity, as part of an effort by the municipal government and stakeholders to implement a Marine Protected Area.
The present paper provides an in-depth comparison between an area currently proposed by the municipal body
(PMPA) and an alternate area (AMPA) first proposed in 2016. Both areas show extensive differences across the entire
data range, with the AMPA hosting a far greater total diversity of species, diversity of fish and corals and total hard
coral cover. Additionally, the AMPA site supported greater numbers of ecologically and economically important fish
and invertebrate fauna, though still showing indications of a heavily overfished ecosystem. Surveys were also carried
out in local fish markets to assess the role of local coral reefs in the overall fishery at Toboso. These findings increase
the total number of faunal taxa recorded from Toboso from 435 species to 589, and 73 species of marine associated
flora. Also documented is the first record in the Philippines of the skeleton forming octocoral genus Nanipora.
Recommended Citation: Mehrotra R., Funesto E.G., Arnold S. and Pakeenuya S. (2017). Toboso Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Report - "Contrasting Areas for Priority of Protection". Conservation Diver. 26pp.
DOI - 10.13140/RG.2.2.18498.89289
The authors would like to thank the reviewers of this present work for their input and recommendations. In particular
we would like to thank Alexandra Brinzaniuc for her time and efforts with data review. This study would not have
been possible without the extensive efforts of Jocelyn and Kevin Hekrdle of the Worldreef Toboso team who have
dealt with the endless struggles of supporting conservation and ecological education admirably. We would also like to
thank Bobby Valencia Jr. for work with Worldreef and the team. We would like to thank Chad M. Scott of the New
Heaven Reef Conservation Program, and Conservation Diver, for his input and support of this work, access to an
extensive source of data, and use of additional equipment for the study. Support and equipment was also provided by
the Department of Biology and Environmental Science, College of Science, at the University of the Philippines, Cebu.
This project was partially funded by Worldreef Toboso, Northern Negros Aquatic Resources and Advisory Council,
Toboso Escalante Association and the Municipality of Toboso. This report is dedicated to the memory of Kevin
Hekrdle who was a pioneer of marine conservation in the area and who was the source of significant progress in
understanding and protecting the marine resources of Toboso.
Contents and Figures
Figure 1
Project Overview
Table 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Coral reef ecosystems are among the most
biodiverse and threatened marine ecosystems on
the planet with numerous natural and
anthropogenic stressors endangering the survival
of these rich habitats. Licuanan et al. (2017) have
recently provided an extensive update of the health
of coral reef ecosystems throughout the
Philippines. This survey has yielded a much-
needed understanding of the present state of coral
cover throughout the Philippines, which sits at the
heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ and hosts some of the
highest diversity of hard coral species globally
(Veron et al., 2009). A key finding covered in the
report estimates the mean Hard Coral Cover
(HCC) throughout the region at 22%, with 90% of
all sites surveyed in the ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ categories
(0-33% HCC an indication of ‘Live Coral
Coverage’ LCC). These low LCCs reveal a marked
decline in coral cover and reef ecosystem health
over the past few decades (Gomez et al., 1981). It
was noted that both historic and recent estimates
are likely influenced by surveys being largely
carried out within marine protected areas (MPAs)
with more surveys needed from regions outside of
protected areas to provide a more comprehensive
assessment of the reefs in the region.
Though Licuanan et al. (2017) assess the
regional reefs with higher resolution than ever
before, there remain large areas with limited or no
assessment, including the central islands of Panay,
Masbate, Guimaras, most of Bohol, and a stretch of greater than 150km along East Negros. This 150km
unsurveyed stretch of East Negros is documented at either end with surveys from the area around Bais city
(representing Negros Oriental) in the south and the area around Molocaboc Island (representing Negros
Occidental) in the north. Included within this 150km coastline is the rural municipality of Toboso, representing
approximately 11km along the northern end of this unassessed area. The region is at present a 3rd class
municipality. The economy is largely driven by fishing and agriculture, and hosts a population of more than
40,000 people (PSA, 2015; PNSO, 2010). The municipality had, until recently, undergone no formal assessment
of its marine resources including biodiversity or ecosystem health. Mehrotra et al. (2016) carried out an initial
inventory of marine species at Toboso, across multiple coastal ecosystems, to support a local and governmental
push to implement a zonation scheme along its coastline, with the inclusion of areas for legal protection. The
biodiversity and health assessment of the report found the area to host more than 450 species, including over
120 species of fish, 72 species of mollusk and 65 species of hard coral. Particular emphasis was also made on
the species of potential tourism value, which is an industry that does not currently present itself at Toboso.
Shallow water transect surveys (3-5m) of coral reefs along much of the coastline uncovered a mean HCC of
24.8%, with extensive variation among survey areas, particularly between the locally proposed MPA (PMPA)
and all other reef areas. Surveys also indicated temperature induced bleaching of between 9% to 31% of colonies
per transect, varying between sites. This was part of the 2016 global bleaching event (Bruckner et al., 2017;
Perry and Morgan., 2017; Scott and Hoey, 2017), though it was noted that during the time of the surveys corals
had recently been killed or were recovering.
Additionally, Mehrotra et al. (2016) documented the heavily depleted reef fisheries, with transect
surveys showing grouper and butterflyfish at densities of only 1.93 and 2.14 individuals per 100m3 respectively,
and parrotfish at less than 0.8 individuals per 100m3. When taking fish size into account, the majority of all
A small recruit of an Acropora coral
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
indicator fish species were sub-adult
or significantly smaller than
documented adult sizes. This
empirical observation of small fish
size was supported qualitatively by
observations of multiple fish species
and in-situ photographic
documentation, though fixed
measurements were not taken. The
trend of heavy depletion of fish
abundances extended to
commercially valuable invertebrate
species as well, with extremely low
numbers of holothurian sea
cucumbers (only 3 individuals
observed within transects along all
sites surveyed) and Tridacna (giant
clam) species (four individuals of T. crocea along all sites). This observed depletion did appear to show some
improvement in roving-diver surveys in deeper parts of the reef (>5m), including the presence of four Tridacna
squamosa found along more than 4km of total coastline surveyed. These species are readily consumed and
commercially sold (when available) at Toboso and across much of the Philippines and South-East Asia (Uthicke
and Conand, 2005; Gomez and Mingoa-Licuanan, 2006; Padilla, 2008; Dolorosa and Jontila, 2012). These
densities are far lower than those observed in other, healthier areas of the Philippines (see Dolorosa and Jontila,
The Philippine’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR, 2015) stated that Commercial fish
production in the Landing Centers of the whole Philippines was 1,084,624.7 metric tonnes. Toboso fishing
activities can be mostly classed as municipal level fishing (see Mehrotra et al., 2016) with the latest estimates
(BFAR, 2015) suggesting that municipal level catch from Region VI (the designated region of Toboso and
several other municipalities), was approximately 102,998 metric tonnes, though given the relative size of fishing
effort and municipality, it is likely that municipal catch in Toboso is below the mean per municipality for the
region. Diversity assessments of fish species from landings and markets have been explored in the Northern
Samar (Galenzoga and Quiñones, 2014) and Isabela provinces (Baleta and Baleta, 2016) of the Philippines,
including a comprehensive assessment of coral reef associated taxa, many of which are readily consumed in the
country. Rogers et al. (2014) assessed that coral reef fish make up around 10% of fish consumed by people,
with Burke et al. (2011) stating that an estimated 6.8 billion USD is generated globally by the coral reef fishery.
In the Tañon strait and other parts of the Philippines however, daily incomes for fisherfolk can range from as
little as 1.05 to 2.10 USD per day, per person (TSPS-GMP, 2015).
A persistent problem in the Philippines, and indeed globally, is related to overfishing. Around mid 2014,
after the European Union (EU) issued the Philippines a “yellow card” for its issues regarding IUU (Illegal,
Unreported and Unregulated) fishing activities and practices, multiple measures were taken to combat these
problems (EC, 2015). By 2015 when the yellow card was lifted, several items of legislation were passed or
strengthened, including amendments to the Republic Act 8550 of the Philippine Fisheries Code which already
mandates a minimum of 15% of municipal waters to be used as fish sanctuaries. The role of sanctuaries and
MPAs within the Philippines has been critically evaluated in multiple works highlighting several concerns and
challenges but also certain steps towards progress (White and Cruz-Trinidad, 1998; White et al., 2002; Abesamis
et al., 2006; White et al., 2014, Espectato et al., 2017, Ito et al., 2017). Additionally, several attempts have been
made to provide region-specific frameworks and guidelines to help address the many challenges that hinder the
effectives of many MPAs (Beger et al., 2004; Cabral et al., 2015), though certain key issues such as enforcement
and connectivity can only be solved by improved stakeholder collaboration and political will, with particular
emphasis on prioritisation of long term monitoring and enforcement to achieve success.
A colony of Galaxea astreata at 24m depth
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Creating areas of protection and marine
reserves has been shown to successfully promote
restocking of fish populations, including within
coral reef areas (Russ el al., 2008; Soler et al.,
2015). In 1975, the Sumilon Island Marine
Sanctuary was established, the first municipal
marine sanctuary in the Philippines. For 10 years,
all fishing practices at a certain portion of the
island were halted. This intervention led to an
increase in coral cover and a doubling of annual
fish catch from about 14t/km2 to almost 36t/km2
(Russ and Alcala, 1996). In 1984 however, the reef
sanctuary was violated, leading to fish yield
decline (White 1988; Russ and Alcala 1996). In
1985, Apo Island Marine Reserve was established
and is seen as a significant success story, with an
observed increase in fish catch (Abesamis et al.,
2006) outside their sanctuary. An additional 600
MPAs were established in the country since this
period (Maypa et al., 2002; Russ et al., 2004) with
the most recent estimates suggesting over 1800
MPAs throughout the region (Cabral et al., 2014).
Toboso is located in the Tañon strait, with its
waters within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape
(TSPS) which remains the largest marine protected
area within the Philippines. The TSPS was
formally announced in 1998 with limited
documentation and assessments, however a
General Management Plan (TSPS-GMP, 2015) was recently created re-iterating the role of the Tañon Strait as
an area of exceptional importance to marine biodiversity, ecology, and fishery. The TSPS includes the waters
of over 40 municipalities and cities, each with the mandate to follow the guidelines and goals for the coastline
and waters within their respective areas. The TSPS provides a framework for governing bodies to adhere to,
with location specific zonation and protection free to be determined by these bodies for the areas within their
At present, an MPA is under consideration at the municipality of Toboso (Appendix 1A), of an
estimated 250 hectares extending less than a kilometer along the coastline, but 3.5km out to sea, and would act
in support of the intentions proposed by the TSPS. The current proposed area was suggested to be prioritising
areas of the coastline with the lowest coral reef health and overall biodiversity based on preliminary transect
and photo documentation data in Mehrotra et al. (2016). The report further concluded that the creation of such
an area would be ineffective for the purposes of restoration and recovery of both reef health, and the local
fishery. An alternative area was therefore put forward based on data suggesting significantly greater coral cover
and biodiversity if the area were to include an area of coastline further south (see Fig. 1). This alternate MPA
(AMPA) extends the protection close to the southern border of the municipality, while shifting the northern
border further south. This was done to maximise the coastal areas of higher diversity to be included within the
area of protection, while additionally keeping total area of protection within the specifications set out by the
governing body. Additionally, the proportion of the deeper waters extending into the Tañon Strait was reduced
significantly to prioritise the coastal regions and further maintain the spatial area covered. The role of coral reefs
as a nursery to juvenile fish and as spawning grounds for adults is well documented (Negelkerken et al., 2000).
Therefore, trading the fishing pressure along the healthy reef for the deeper waters of the area, which are also
regarded by the local fishing community as key fishing grounds, was seen as a beneficial step for both the much-
needed recovery of local fish stocks, and supporting competing interests of the local community.
Bryaninops yongei clings to the remnants of a
whip coral
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Project Overview
Two key areas of the Toboso coastline were discussed in the 2016 report, namely the proposed MPA
(PMPA), following the criteria and specifications prior to the 2016 results, and an adjacent area to the south
which was put forward as an alternate (AMPA). The primary purpose of the present study therefore was to carry
out a further, more detailed investigation, comparing the two areas to provide a clearer understanding of the
natural resources in both areas. This was done by comparing the faunal and floral diversity between the two
areas and comparing coral coverage (HCC) as a metric of coral reef health.
Alongside the above described investigation into diversity and coral cover, a more detailed investigation
of the role of coral reefs in the local fishery was carried out. This was to build upon the 2016 efforts to assess
the abundance of key indicator fish and invertebrate species (species of documented ecological and local
commercial value) within the two competing MPA locations. Additionally, data on catch rates, diversity of
catch, and role of different species in the local industry was collected from the local fisherfolk and from the fish
The final aim was to build on the current inventory of marine biodiversity, with a particular focus on
expansion of the understanding of algal diversity (kingdoms Plantae and Chromista) along the Toboso coastline.
Regulations and minimum diversity requirements to set up an MPA are set out by the local governing bodies
and appear to differ greatly between bodies and regional authorities. A seemingly arbitrary number of 100
species” (which was understood to be either floral or faunal) was set out by the local body in 2016 to act as a
minimum baseline, which was later increased with multiple values quoted but limited consensus. Regardless, it
is seen as prudent to maximise the understanding of total species in the area to improve the clarity and certainty
with which an overall diversity value can be given.
Figure 1 Survey locations and boundary points for Alternate MPA and Proposed MPA locations.
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Transect surveys were carried out along the reef following the Ecological Monitoring Program (EMP)
protocols according to Scott (2014), collecting data on substrate cover, health, and composition, and abundances
of key indicator invertebrate and vertebrate taxa, between April and May 2017. Indicator species were expanded
to include species of the family Pomacanthidae (Angelfish) for their relative size and potential value to the
tourism industry. Transects were divided into shallow (2-5m) and deep (6-9m) surveys and were carried out at
the same locations between the two areas, as specified in Mehrotra et al. (2016), using a Garmin eTrex® 20x
GPS receiver. Coordinates for all sites used are listed in Table 1. Sites S1 and S2 were representative of the
AMPA, with sites MPAN and MPAS being used as representative of the PMPA. Additionally, coordinates for
the four corners of PMPA and AMPA are provided.
Table 1 Coordinates for survey locations and boundary points for AMPA and PMPA locations.
Site Description
North Transect within Proposed MPA
N10°41'56.0 E123°30'42.3
South Transect within Proposed MPA
N10°41'41.4 E123°30'38.8
South 1
N10°41'22.8 E123°30'34.1
South 2
N10°40'59.6 E123°30'28.5
North-West point of Proposed MPA
N10°42'14.90 E123°30'30.70
South-West point of Proposed MPA
N10°41'34.95 E123°30'21.20
North-East point of Proposed MPA
N10°42'0.83 E123°32'10.82
South-East point of Proposed MPA
N10°41'35.03 E123°32'11.06
North-West point of Alternate MPA
N10°41'51.33 E123°30'34.03
South-West point of Alternate MPA
N10°40'58.25 E123°30'11.88
North-East point of Alternate MPA
N10°41'50.49 E123°30'56.90
South-East point of Alternate MPA
N10°40'58.22 E123°30'51.35
Photographic documentation was carried out using Olympus TG4 cameras with an Olympus PT-056
housing for deeper water images. Where possible, the morphology of species was investigated and size
approximated in-situ to support photographic species distinctions. Photographic documentation was used to
identify and supplement data collection on the expansion of the species inventory. Additionally, documentation
of different species at the fish markets and landing sites was also carried out to support species identification.
This was supplemented with surveys of the local fishing community regarding fishing locations, catch rates
(much of which were independently verified as fish were being landed from the boats) and price. Catch rates
were assessed in units of mass (kg), per survey per day (with each survey comprising a 2-hour assessment of
the fish market), and was largely used with the purpose of evaluating the relative proportion of catch per species
per day.
Indicator species included the sea cucumber Pearsonothuria graeffei and urchin Diadema setosum
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
The preliminary study of this area (Mehrotra et al. 2016) identified a total of 435 species of fauna
associated with the marine and coastal ecosystems of Toboso. These species were divided into 197 families,
from multiple phyla. An additional 18 species of flora (mangroves, sea grass and algae) were identified from
the area, creating a total species inventory of 453 species. In the current study a total of 154 new faunal species
were recorded for Toboso in 2017 bringing the total animal diversity estimates to 589 species. Of these, 248
species were recorded within the PMPA and AMPA locations. In addition, a total of 73 marine associated flora
(kingdoms Chromista and Plantae) are now known from Toboso. Of these, 65 species were found within the
PMPA and AMPA locations. The total diversity of marine associated taxa recorded is therefore 662 species,
with 314 recorded within the surveyed MPA locations. The complete list of identified species at Toboso,
including designation regarding presence within study areas, new records for the municipality, and species with
a known commercial value for consumption, can be found in the supplementary list of Appendix 2.
Diversity comparisons were made between all phyla with results based on the two most specious classes
recorded within the MPA survey areas, Anthozoa and Actinoptergyii (Fig.2). Of the 100 species of Anthozoa
recorded within both areas 60% were recorded exclusively in the AMPA with only 4% recorded within the
PMPA. The majority of the anthozoan diversity recorded was the hard corals (Scleractinia), with 78 species
recorded in total; 50 in the AMPA, 27 in both, and a single species found in the PMPA only (Acanthastrea sp.).
Among the recorded fish diversity, 82.4% were recorded within the AMPA, with almost two thirds (64.7%)
being recorded exclusively within the AMPA. A greater proportion of fish species were found to be exclusive
to the PMPA than anthozoan taxa, however these species still remain the minority. Overall, the trends in total
diversity across all phyla follow similar patterns as in Fig. 2 (see Appendix 2, supplement). A total of 314
species were recorded between the two MPA locations, with 188 species (59.9%) being recorded exclusively
within the AMPA, 42 species (13.4%) found exclusively within the PMPA and 84 species (26.8%) were
recorded in both locations.
Substrate transect surveys presented clear differences in hard coral cover (HCC) between sites. In both
shallow and deep transects, site S2 had the highest HCC of all sites (Fig. 3). In the deeper reefs the mean HCC
of sites representing the AMPA (S1+S2 combined) was 37.5% 6.6%), and sites representing the PMPA
(MPAS+MPAN combined) had a mean HCC of 3.4% (± 3.9%), representing a difference in coral cover greater
than a factor of 10. Mean HCC for the MPAS alone was 6.9% 2.7%), which still represents a five-fold
difference in mean HCC between sites. In shallow reefs the difference was less steep, with mean HCC for
AMPA sites being 41.6% (± 10.8%) and mean HCC for PMPA sites being 14.7% (± 6.5%). It should be noted
that the highest coral cover surveyed was also found at the S2 site at 60%.
Figure 2 Species diversity between Alternate Marine Protected Area (AMPA) and Proposed Marine
Protected Area (PMPA), numbers indicate number of species recorded. Sites S1 and S2 made up the
AMPA and sites MPAN and MPAS made up the PMPA.
Fish Diversity
Anthozoan Diversity
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Figure 3 Hard Coral Cover between sites at deeper and shallower transects with axis representing HCC,
showing four replicates per site. Error bars indicate standard deviations per site. Horizontal lines delineate
levels of coral reef health according to Gomez et al., (1981), as 0-25% = Poor, 25-50% as Fair, 50-75% as Good
and >75% as Excellent.
R² = 0.9152
% Cover - Deep
R² = 0.6604
% Cover - Shallow
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
D. setosum D. savignyi E. calamaris Holothuridae T. crocea T. squamosa
Echinoidea Holothuroidea Tridacninae
Inidividuals per 100m2
Comparison of Invertebrates
between PMPA and AMPA sites
Figure 4 Mean indicator abundances per transect per site. Sites S1 and S2
made up the AMPA and sites MPAN and MPAS made up the PMPA. Error
bars representing standard deviations per invertebrate type. Venn
diagrams show total species diversity per phylum within the PMPA, AMPA
and both areas.
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Of the three main categories of invertebrate taxa used as indicators, large differences were observed in
densities of sea urchins, sea cucumbers and giant clams (Fig. 4). All three species of the Diadematidae were
abundant at AMPA sites, with E. calamaris being far less abundant in the deeper water than in the shallows,
unlike both Diadema spp. Both species were found at far greater densities in the AMPA than PMPA with D.
setosum being found at 45.88 ± 2.58 (AMPA) and 4.13 ± 2.06 (PMPA) and D. savignyi being found at 13.25 ±
1.26 (AMPA) and 0.88 ± 0.45 (PMPA) individuals per 100m2. E. calamaris abundances were the most similar
between the two areas (24.63 ± 10.97 at AMPA and 14.63 ± 9.26 at PMPA) out of all indicator species surveyed
in 2017. Only two species of Holothuridae were encountered (Pearsonothuria graeffei and Holothuria atra),
with a mean abundance of 1.38 ± 0.48 and 0.25 ± 0.22 individuals per 100m2 in the AMPA and PMPA sites
respectively. Surveys at AMPA sites indicated T. crocea densities of 0.5 (± 0.25) and T. squamosa densities of
0.63 (± 0.11) per 100m2. No Tridacna spp. were recorded at the PMPA. Raw data graphs per invertebrate type
can be seen in Appendix 1B.
Throughout all surveys, a complete absence of both small and large Scaridae, Pomacanthidae and
Acanthuridae (Parrotfish, Angelfish and Surgeonfish respectively) was recorded (Fig. 5) at the PMPA (MPAN
and MPAS combined). Low densities of Pomacentridae, Lutjanidae and Epinephelinae (Butterflyfish, Snapper
and Grouper respectively) were recorded (averaging 0.75, 0.13 and 0.63 fish per 100m3 respectively). In
contrast, all indicator fish surveyed were far more abundant at AMPA (S1 and S2 combined) sites, with all
categories other than the Acanthuridae showing some presence of large fish (greater than approximately 20cm).
Mean abundances of all six categories combined were 0.25 (± 0.31) fish per 100m3 at PMPA sites, with mean
abundances at AMPA sites over 16 times higher at 4.1 (± 3.0) fish per 100m3. Raw data graphs per fish type
can be seen in Appendix 1C.
Figure 5 Mean fish abundances per transect per site. Sites S1 and S2 made up the Alternate Marine
Protected Area and sites MPAN and MPAS made up the Proposed Marine Protected Area. Error bars
represent standard deviations per fish type.
Butterflyfish Parrotfish Angelfish Surgeonfish Snapper Grouper
Fish per 100m3
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
In total, 54 species (26 families) of fish
were recorded being sold at the fish markets in
the 2017 assessment. An additional 17 species
were previously recorded in 2016 as
intentionally caught by fishermen, to be sold or
consumed locally (Appendix 2). Of the 54
species recorded in the present assessment, 46
species were new to the regional database (not
observed in 2016 or in-situ surveys to date).
Price per kilo data was collected for 27 of the 54
species. An estimated total of 891kg of fish were
evaluated during the survey period, with all coral
reef associated fish (fish that spend the majority
of adult life stages at the coral reef) making up
142kg of the total, and in particular indicator fish
(those in Fig. 5) making up just 16kg of the total. Indicator fish (see Fig. 5) were all estimated to be caught at
between 0.2-1kg per survey per day. Regular recordings of shark being sold were also made, though exact
numbers were hard to estimate. At least two species were confirmed based on morphological analysis (though
sometimes with incomplete specimens), these being the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and a thresher shark
(Alopias sp.). Shark meat was sold separately from other fish at 80 pesos (1.57 USD) per kilo, the same rate as
Acanthuridae spp., Serranidae spp (including groupers)., and Labridae spp. (among others) that were sold
together as a mixed batch. Lutjanidae spp. were also sold at 80 pesos per kilo, but were sold mixed as a separate
batch. By far the cheapest fish sold at the market were the butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) at 20 pesos per kilo,
with the catch largely composed of subadult fish (similarly observed with snappers and surgeonfish among
others). Butterflyfish are not caught intentionally, but are landed as bycatch and therefore put up for sale, though
they usually are not sold and are typically consumed or discarded by the vendors/ fisherfolk due to low demand
from marketgoers. By far the most abundant fish landed at Toboso during the survey was Sardinella lemuru, at
an estimated 110kg per survey per day (when landed), followed by Rastrelliger brachysoma and Chanos chanos
at approximately 27kg and 22kg per survey per day respectively. Costs for S. lemuru, R. brachysoma and C.
chanos were 50, 120 and 160 pesos per kg respectively.
The severed head of a Thresher shark for sale at Toboso
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Mean HCC values for the sites
MPAN and MPAS resulted in both
being classed as Poor for both shallow
and deep-water assessments. These
HCC values were based on the
classification of Gomez et al (1981) as
used in Licuanan et al (2017). Site S1
was classed as Fair in both shallow
and deep surveys and site S2 was
classed as Fair in the deeper surveys
and Good in shallow surveys. Based
on these estimates, and the assessments
carried out in Licuanan et al. (2017), the
reef at the AMPA site was above
average for the Philippines in general,
which is stated at approximately 22%
HCC. The PMPA site was below
average for the Philippines. When
region specificity was taken into
account, Licuanan et al. (2017) found that the mean HCC for Negros Occidental was 33%, which is higher than
the mean estimates for the country as a whole. Even at this benchmark AMPA sites remained above average. A
distinct correlation was observed between HCC and distance from the center of the PMPA, this being that the
further south one surveyed the higher the overall HCC (discussed below). As representative sites for both MPA
locations, a sharp contrast was observed with regards to overall reef health. Both areas, however, showed
improvement when compared to data from 2016 surveys, which had recorded large areas of coral bleaching and
related mortality. In contrast, surveys in 2017 found less than 1% of all corals within transect areas showing any
indication of bleaching. Sparse instances of disease and growth abnormalities were observed, but they were not
abundant enough to initiate a particular investigation. On average, all sites were found to host less than 10%
coverage of macroalgal species in the shallows and less than 2% along deep transects. However, the MPAS site
supported an average of 17.5% macroalgal growth along the shallow reef which is twice as much as the next
highest proportion of 8.75% at the shallow S1 site.
The AMPA site is far better suited for protection status than the currently proposed site. This conclusion
is based on the well-established fact that healthy reef systems support a greater diversity and abundance of
marine life, including fish, and the current work makes it (abundantly) clear that the AMPA hosts a greater
diversity of species. The preference for the AMPA site is supported by the substantially greater diversity of
species hosted within the AMPA site than the PMPA, in particular species of coral and fish (Fig. 2). The general
management plan for the TSPS region (TSPS-GMP 2015) provides a list of genera of Scleractinia recorded
from within the seascape. The findings of Scleractinian diversity largely agree with the genera (where
taxonomically valid) stated in the report, with a number of key differences. The genera Astreopora, Alveopora,
Goniastrea and Tubastrea, among others, were recorded in abundance at Toboso but do not appear to have been
recorded in the TSPS report, while also listing the genera Coscinaraea and Madracis, neither of which was
recorded at Toboso to date. At the very least this indicates that Toboso is by no means lacking in family and
genus level diversity with respect to hard corals relative the rest of the TSPS. Without a greater, high resolution
survey effort in the rest of the TSPS however, a conclusive assessment of relative diversity and health cannot
be made. The creation of an MPA invariably supports the goal of providing a given region a clear benefit,
whether economically or ecologically, or both. In both cases, protection of the AMPA site supplements these
ecological and economic goals in a far more effective way, with a greater diversity protected, and a far greater
scope of supporting the recovery of the coral reef fishery in Toboso than currently proposed plans.
Elongated tentacles of Euphyllia glabrescens adorn each polyp
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Substrate and Notable Diversity
Substrate diversity was low in the northernmost sites surveyed. Personal observations by the authors
and substrate data analysis highlighted the influence of the nearby Maaswas and Sagahan river mouths on these
sites, and are likely related to the low substrate diversity observed. Soft-sediments made up a considerably
higher portion of these sites than the S1 and S2 sites further south, with 0% hard substrate being found deeper
than 7m at the MPAN site. Visibility during surveys at these sites was always noticeably poorer than at the sites
further south. It is likely that the high levels of sedimentation and nutrient input into the reef habitats within the
PMPA will continue to limit the growth and expansion of the reef within this area, however more data and an
analysis over longer timescales will be required to adequately document and propose solutions to this issue.
Roving diver surveys yielded much of the
diversity data collected between the AMPA and
PMPA locations, with transect surveys being largely
focused on abundance and health assessments.
Though these surveys indicate a greater diversity and
health within the S1 and S2 sites, differences in
substrate composition at depth played a noticeable role
in variation in diversity of organisms supported. For
example, the seafloor deeper than 7m at the MPAN
site was composed of 100% silt and sand substrates.
Therefore, this composition supported a community
that is more typically found in soft sediment habitats
in the area (i.e. Sygnathidae spp., certain Aglajidae
spp. etc), though the overall diversity even for a
typical soft sediment habitat, was noticeably lower
than similar ecotones in Toboso.
Conversely, sites S1 and S2 are comprised of
primarily hard substrate up to depths of 25m, and were
therefore found to be supporting certain genera that
were typical of deeper waters in the area (i.e
Alveopora spp. and Euphyllia yaeyamaensis).
Arguably the most significant of these observations
was at the MPAS site at 14m, where a single colony of
Nanipora sp. was observed on one of several isolated
large rocks immersed in the sediment. This makes the
first recorded observation of this rare octocoral genus
in the Philippines, and the deepest known to date. The
colony was composed of between 50-100 polyps, encrusting over the rock and over other substrates such as
dead bivalve shells and tube-worm casts on the rock.
It should be clarified that the proposed AMPA does include the MPAS site even though MPAS was
used as a representative site for the PMPA. It can be seen (Figs 2,3,4,5) that sites S1 and S2, as representatives
of the AMPA, support proportionally far greater abundances and diversity of all indicator families and overall
marine life, and that of the two sites representing the PMPA, the MPAS site supports the greater diversity and
abundances of marine life. The purpose of providing an alternative to the PMPA is not to disregard the area as
one that requires legal protection, but rather maximise the effectiveness of such protection by delineating the
area with similar spatial constraints while also supporting the greatest health and diversity (and therefore greatest
potential loss under current trends and practices). An added benefit of the inclusion of the area around the MPAS
site would be the protection of the sole Nanipora colony found in this study. While it is likely that more colonies
can be found in the area, none have been found in the surveys and Nanipora is not presently known to exist
outside of Japan and the Gulf of Thailand (Miyazanki and Reimer 2015; Miyazaki et al., 2016; Urgell et al.,
Extended polyps of Nanipora sp. encrusting over
the case of a tube worm
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Fish and Invertebrates
Transect data of both fish and
invertebrates reveal differences between
AMPA and PMPA location by an order of
magnitude. In terms of fish, all reef
families surveyed showed a minimum of
600% greater abundances in AMPA than
PMPA, with several families missing
altogether. Invertebrates showed a far
greater range in differences but in all
cases, abundances were either absent or
far lower at PMPA sites. Giant clams and
sea cucumbers were assessed due to their
ecological role in coral reefs and
commercial value in the Philippines and
South-East Asia (Uthicke and Conand,
2005; Gomez and Mingoa-Licuanan,
2006; Padilla, 2008). The family
Stichopodidae was also included in the
survey as inclusive of multiple commercially traded species of sea cucumber, however no individuals were
encountered in any of the transect areas. Though the abundances of giant clams are likely to be less than other
key invertebrate taxa, a mean of 0.56 individuals per 100m2 for both Tridacna species indicates a highly depleted
stock when compared with other parts of the Philippines and beyond (see Dolorosa and Jontila, 2012; RCM,
2014). No other species of Tridacna were recorded at Toboso, nor individuals of Hippopus hippopus which has
been recorded at Toboso previously, but was not observed in the 2017 effort. Overall, the trends in fish and
invertebrate abundance observed in the higher intensity survey of 2017 largely agreed with the findings of the
initial assessment in Mehrotra et al. (2016).
Limited work has been carried
out at the TSPS and around the
Philippines in general to quantify fish
abundances in coral reefs. While
numerous studies have been carried
out to assess fish abundance on reefs, a
lack of standardisation regarding both
methodology and units of abundance,
has limited comparisons and
evaluation of the significance of reef
fish at Toboso. In general, reef fish
abundances are represented in the
literature as either mass per spatial area
(i.e. kg/100m3) or as presented here,
individuals per spatial area (i.e
individuals/100m2). Among the
assessments made on in-situ reef fish
abundance in the Philippines, the study geographically closest to Toboso that could be found was the data in
Negros Oriental by Adringa-Davis (2017), where rapid visual census method (RVC), as suggested by Hill and
Wilkinson (2004) is employed. The use of the RVC method meant the data was collected as abundance by unit
of survey time, rather than spatial area, and numbers of individual fish were not counted, but instead counted as
a block unit. Regardless of difference in survey methods, a relative comparison of results can be made between
families. The paper observed that butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) made up the most abundant family of those
A pair of large Pygoplites diacanthus found in deep reef
A single Arothron reticularis crosses the transect line
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
surveyed and that there were approximately half as many groupers (Epinephelinae spp.) as butterflyfish, with
both trends agreeing with observations made in the present work. However, it was also observed that the
surveyed reefs in Negros Oriental supported a relatively high abundance of angelfish (Pomacanthidae), whereas
angelfish were by far the least abundant family of those investigated at Toboso. Aside from relative abundances
in diversity, without attempts at extrapolating either set of data based on estimates and assumptions, a direct
comparison cannot be made. Correlations between higher HCC and diversity, and greater fish abundance on
reefs is well documented (Bell and Galzin, 1984; Bouchon-Navaro and Bouchon, 1989; Jones et al., 2004;
Madduppa et al., 2012). Data from a broad range of sources was used in an attempt to compare over large scales,
however it quickly became apparent that data reflecting the high abundance and diversity of the ‘Coral Triangle’
was largely missing. Nonetheless, a meta-data comparison of butterflyfish in coral reefs was carried and can be
seen in Appendix 1D.
Fish markets
Coral reef associated fish (fish
known to spend the majority of adult life in
coral reefs) made up 15.9% of the total catch
during the survey period at fish markets.
When specified to only the six indicator
families, this value drops to 1.8% of total
catch. Without further investigation into
longer time-scales and regional and seasonal
variations, attributing this low catch to low
fish stocks or low demand can only be
speculation, though it is believed that a
combination of both factors is likely.
Proportionally, it is challenging to assess
relative reef fish catch rates throughout the
Philippines, as little data is available for
When comparing only the six key families assessed as indicators, an assessment of fish landed per year
in the Northern Samar province (Galenzoga and Quiñones 2014), it was estimated that the Lutjanidae (snappers)
made up the greatest proportional catch at 27 tonnes. The Pomacanthidae (angelfish) and Scombridae
(parrotfish) made up 5 tonnes and 2.9 tonnes of catch respectively and the Serranidae, including the groupers,
at only 105 kilos per year. Indicator fish such as the butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) and surgeonfish
(Acanthuridae) were absent from their findings, but other reef-associated species such as the Labridae (wrasses)
and Siganidae (rabbitfishes) were found at approximately 10 tonnes and 2 tonnes per year respectively. Baleta
and Baleta (2016) made similar conclusions regarding seasonality and species-specific demand in Isabela
province in terms of total catch diversity, but variations in reef-fish proportions were also observed. In terms of
relative catch of different reef species, trends at Toboso do not overlap with those in Galenzoga and Quiñones
(2014) but meaningful conclusions of trends isn’t possible without broader regional assessments. However,
certain records remain consistent between studies, such as Charcharinidae (Requiem Sharks) being the least
abundant of all catch at 900kg in Galenzoga and Quiñones (2014) and Atule mate with highest demand and
catch rate in Galenzoga and Quiñones (2014) and Baleta and Baleta (2016). Both trends were also observed at
Toboso, however, all of the catch of Atule mate recorded were sourced in the waters of nearby Escalante
province and not in local waters, where it was landed to be sold, and were therefore not included in the analysis.
In terms of economic value from exports of the key indicator species explored in Mehrotra et al. (2016)
and in the present work, BFAR states that in 2015, groupers traded at 2.1 billion pesos (approx. 45.6 million
USD), and sea cucumbers at 180 million pesos (approx. 3.9 million USD). Additionally, 260 million pesos
(approx. 5.68 million USD) was attributed to the export of live ornamental fish, which typically includes a
significant portion from coral reef habitats, driven by the resulting demand due to their aesthetics. It should be
noted however that the majority of grouper export is sourced from the aquaculture industry. Of particular
concern regarding conservation status is the apparent regular catch of shark species. Both observed species in
Butterflyfish sold mixed with other species at a Toboso fish
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
particular are in need of close monitoring based on assessments according to the IUCN Red List (IUCN, 2017).
The bull shark is currently classed as ‘Near Threatened,’ all species of thresher shark are classed as ‘Vulnerable’
under the Red List, and are also listed under Appendix II of CITES. Discussion with locals has verified that
Elasmobranchs, in particular sharks, are a regular commodity in the fish markets of Toboso. Additionally,
accidental bycatch has also been shown to impact local fisheries, as exampled by an incidental catch of a large
sunfish (Mola sp.) being observed by the authors in 2016.
Marine Associated Flora
A priority for the 2017 diversity
assessment was to document the species
richness of algae at Toboso. The resulting
efforts increased the documented records
in the region from 18 (based on the 2016
assessment) to 73 species. Much of the
coastline is covered by mangroves and
certain viable patches of soft sediment
substrate also support seagrass beds, and
the relevance of both at Toboso is briefly
discussed in Mehrotra et al. (2016). The
representation of flora in this paper
outlines what was observed around the
coral reef ecosystems that were surveyed,
and is in no way indicative of the overall
biodiversity of marine flora in Toboso, but a baseline that suggests that the overall diversity of flora within the
MPAs is much higher than what was observed. Marine flora within the Philippines are known to be highly
specious, with AlgaeBase presently listing 1240 different species (Guiry and Guiry, 2017). In the Philippines,
seaweeds have an additional economic value and are harvested across the country as a commercially viable and
edible crop. The most widely commercially harvested of these are Eucheuma spp., also known as Guso in the
Philippines, and Caulerpa lentillifera. These were not found within the MPAs, but other edible species were
found, including Caulerpa racemosa and Gracilaria edulis (Chennubhotla et al., 2013; Paul et al., 2014). In
1995, the algaculture of Eucheuma in the Philippines reached an estimated 58,324 dry metric tons valued at
US$44 million dollars (Trono, 1999) making it an important economic resource in the lives of many agrarian
locals. Algae of the genus Sargassum were also abundant at Toboso, which have been found to be among the
most productive organisms in coral reef areas, and important habitats in their own regard (Wanders, 1976,
Coston-Clements, 1991; Neo et al., 2015).
Marine Protected Areas
Regardless of whether the PMPA or AMPA will be pursued in the legislation, the stringency and level
of enforcement will determine the success of such an area. This applies equally to goals of promoting
biodiversity protection or recovery of fish stocks, but without binding terms a designation may be meaningless.
It is therefore recommended based on findings of surveyed biodiversity, in-situ fish stocks and fish market data
of the present effort, that (a) the AMPA be put in place as a marine sanctuary prohibiting extraction of marine
resources from within the given area and (b) the currently proposed marine reserve be extended further south
and shallower to afford some protection to rates of extraction from these deeper waters. In Mehrotra et al.,
(2016), an Extended MPA was promoted as part of the AMPA to retain some protection in the largely
unexplored deeper waters, and additionally maintain the 250 hectare size agreed to be under consideration.
While the same extended area is also supported in the present recommendations (Fig 6), a second alternative
extension is also provided to retain the spatial consistency within the proposition, and maximise the value of
protection related costs and resources. Coordinates for these points can be found in Appendix 1E. It is hoped
that with multiple options to be considered, each with far greater scientific data and understanding than prior to
these efforts, the responsible parties can support and put into practice an effective area for protection.
Sargassum beds are abundant in the shallow waters of Toboso
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Based on the definitions provided by Miclat and Ingles (2004), Marine Protected Areas and Marine
Reserves (MR) in the Philippines are both areas which are offered some amount of legal protection, or an
intention to do so through any number of measures, and are therefore directly defined on a case by case basis
by the governing body. The only difference being Marine Reserves need not specify protective measures
throughout the whole area, allowing it to serve a multi-function purpose. On the other hand, a Marine Sanctuary
in an MPA that specifically prohibits the extraction of marine resources within a given area, and therefore
different MPAs or marine sanctuaries may be included within a particular marine reserve. Indeed, the original
plans for the PMPA (see Appendix 1A) promote an extensive marine reserve beyond the core MPA. The
effectiveness of both such areas is therefore subject to the stringency of regulations set by any governing body,
and the level of enforcement deployed to implement the legal considerations of an area. Mismanagement of
MPAs in the country is well discussed (White and Cruz-Trinidad, 1998; White et al., 2002; White et al., 2014,
Espectato et al., 2017), and according to ReefBase (2015), only 339 MPAs in the Philippines are actively
managed. Comprehensive exploration and review of marine protection and considerations when implementing
such areas are covered by Post (2016).
EMPA Option 1
EMPA Option 2
Figure 6 Two proposed 250-hectare areas for consideration as alternatives to the PMPA location
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Based on the 2016 and 2017 surveys, Toboso now has a recorded 589 identified species of fauna and
73 species of flora in its waters, approximately half of which can be found within the key MPA area surveyed.
It is expected that with additional observation time, and surveys during different seasons, these numbers could
be greatly increased. Additionally, this suggested area for MPA designation hosts the first and only recorded
colony of Nanipora octocoral in the Philippines, adding further support and emphasis for protection. The current
status of key fish and invertebrate taxa at the currently proposed MPA area (PMPA) is highly depleted, much
like the diversity and abundance of the reef that support them. The reef in the proposed MPA area is considered
“Poor” by currently accepted standards in the literature, and overall is a very weak contender for protection
status. Data from fish markets support the indications that the reef ecosystem has been overfished and heavily
depleted leaving few larger adults to support the local reef fish population. Coral reef fish make up a minority
of those sold and consumed at Toboso, with some species such as the ecologically vital butterflyfish being
unintentionally depleted further and often discarded after being brought to land. The TSPS is home to some of
most biodiverse waters in the Philippines, and therefore the planet, and threats to the ecosystems that support
this diversity only continue to grow. Data on diversity and ecosystem health around Negros and the Visayas are
lacking, and more work must be carried out to assess the capacity of these areas to respond to the threats that
have been faced in the past, and continue to be faced now and in the future.
The present study makes Toboso among the most comprehensively studied waters with regards to reef
ecosystem health and diversity in the TSPS. It is anticipated that the updated inventory of over 500 species is
sufficient to support protection of the waters that host such diversity. However, the authors urge the importance
of proactivity and enforcement in such areas, as decision makers and stakeholders that live with the
responsibility of an MPA also determine the future and success of that MPA. Designation itself is meaningless,
and indeed ‘paper’ MPAs (those that exist on paper only, with limited action in-situ) are a well-documented
problem in the Philippines and South-East Asia. The optimal sites (those in the AMPA) as suggested in the
present work for protection highlight that these locations are well suited to the aims and concerns that drive the
creation of an MPA. None of the locations will succeed in terms of recovery without active participation and
enforcement to limit and indeed cease entirely, further unsustainable extraction of the natural resources from
the shallow coastal and coral reef habitats in the area, and Toboso in general. Recovery and restocking of reef
fisheries will not only promote reef health but will also support the fish populations of deeper water species that
make up a greater portion of the Toboso fisheries market, as many such species rely on shallower reefs,
seagrasses and mangroves as nurseries in their juvenile stages. With ever increasing adverse impacts driven by
climate change, such as coral bleaching events and severe storms, the unpredictability of the survival of many
threatened, high diversity ecosystems, requires as much active support as can be provided.
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Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
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Additional Reading
The Philippines Fisheries code of 1998 Can be accessed at:
Declaration of Commitment for Tañon Strait (TSPS) Can be accessed at:
Love Letter to TAÑON STRAIT (Oceana) Can be accessed at:
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Appendix 1A
A comprehensive look at the proposal for zonation of the coastline of Toboso, including proposed MPA
(designated MPZ) and MR (designated MRZ) areas within the coastline of the municipality. Taken from the
updated original proposal to governing bodies for creation and zonation, by Worldreef Toboso. A complete
copy may be requested from Worldreef Toboso.
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Appendix 1B
Site specific graphs per invertebrate type, comparing mean values of individuals per 100m2 of survey area.
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Appendix 1C
Site specific graphs per fish type, comparing mean values of individuals per 100m2 of survey area.
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Appendix 1D
Comparison of butterflyfish abundance plotted against mean HCC of shallow reefs for multiple locations.
Present work
Red Sea
Modified from Kotb et al., 2008
Gulf of Aqaba
Koh Tao
Aow Leuk
Unpublished data taken during April-June 2017
Hin Wong
Shark Island
Modified from RCM, 2014
R2 0.4299
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Appendix 1E
Coordinates for all points relevant to proposed or suggested MPA locations at Toboso.
Site Description
North Transect within Proposed MPA
N10°41'56.0 E123°30'42.3
South Transect within Proposed MPA
N10°41'41.4 E123°30'38.8
South 1
N10°41'22.8 E123°30'34.1
South 2
N10°40'59.6 E123°30'28.5
North-West point of Proposed MPA
N10°42'14.90 E123°30'30.70
South-West point of Proposed MPA
N10°41'34.95 E123°30'21.20
North-East point of Proposed MPA
N10°42'0.83 E123°32'10.82
South-East point of Proposed MPA
N10°41'35.03 E123°32'11.06
North-West point of Alternate MPA
N10°41'51.33 E123°30'34.03
South-West point of Alternate MPA
N10°40'58.25 E123°30'11.88
North-East point of Alternate MPA
N10°41'50.49 E123°30'56.90
South-East point of Alternate MPA
N10°40'58.22 E123°30'51.35
North-East point of Extended MPA (Option 1)
N10°41'48.60 E123°32'10.70
North-East point of Extended MPA (Option 2)
N10°41'49.69 E123°31'12.52
South-East point of Extended MPA (Option 2)
N10°40'58.17 E123°31'15.76
Toboso Biodiversity and Ecosystem Report 2017
Conservation Diver Pt. Ltd.
New Heaven Reef Conservation Program Pt. Ltd.
Worldreef Toboso Dive Association
University of the Philippines, Cebu
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Given the severity of the 2016 global bleaching event, there are major questions about how quickly reef communities will recover. Here, we explore the ecological and physical structural changes that occurred across five atoll interior reefs in the southern Maldives using data collected at 6 and 12 months post-bleaching. Following initial severe coral mortality, further minor coral mortality had occurred by 12 months post-bleaching, and coral cover is now low (<6%). In contrast, reef rugosity has continued to decline over time, and our observations suggest transitions to rubble-dominated states will occur in the near future. Juvenile coral densities in shallow fore-reef habitats are also exceptionally low (<6 individuals m⁻²), well below those measured 9–12 months following the 1998 bleaching event, and below recovery thresholds identified on other Indian Ocean reefs. Our findings suggest that the physical structure of these reefs will need to decline further before effective recruitment and recovery can begin.
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The Philippine archipelago is well known for its species-rich coral reefs, yet updated information on the present status of its coral reefs at the national level is lacking. Hence, a nationwide assessment was initiated in 2014 to update the information on the status of coral reefs in the Philippines. Reefs sampled were randomly selected from around the country, with the number of assessment stations for each of six biogeographic regions stratified by the total area of reefs in each of these regions. Five 50 m transects were randomly deployed in each assessment station. The initial data gathered from 2015 up to 2017 included a total of 166 stations (108 in Luzon, 31 in Visayas, and 27 in Mindanao), sampled across 31 provinces. None of these stations were classified in the excellent category based on live coral cover, and more than 90% of the same stations were in the poor and fair categories. Their average hard coral cover, weighted by the reef area of each biogeographic zone, was 22% (95% confidence intervals: 19.4, 24.9). These values indicate a marked decline in the condition of local reefs over the last four decades, thereby revealing the urgent need for the revision and update of conservation and management policies.
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High densities of two corallivorous gastropods, Drupella cornus and D. rugosa, may delay the recovery of coral reefs impacted by mass bleaching events by aggregating on the remaining corals. Following severe bleaching in April/May 2016 that resulted in the loss of up to 80% of the living coral cover from reefs in South Malé, Maldives, aggregations of up to 250 Drupella per coral were recorded on surviving colonies. The distribution of snails was not random; larger aggregations were seen on reefs with fewer remaining live corals and also on the largest corals. Branching, digitate and tabular corals, especially species of Acropora and Pocillopora, sustained the highest mortality from the bleaching. Remaining colonies of these taxa exhibited the highest occurrence of snails and the most extensive snail predation, although less-preferred taxa such as Montipora, Porites, Astreopora, Cyphastrea and Pachyseris were also targeted. Drupella also concentrated on broken Acropora branches and overturned colonies; on some reefs, these were the only surviving acroporids, and many of them did not bleach. Continued predation pressure from Drupella may eliminate formerly dominant corals, including genets that are resistant to higher sea water temperatures.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The rural municipality of Toboso, Philippines, has at present undergone no formal assessment or research endeavors of its coastline. This report covers the first study of its kind in the area of Negros Occidental, Philippines, and provides an initial biodiversity inventory for the area. The initial goal of the inventory was to meet locally recognised criteria to put in place a pre-determined Marine Protected Area (MPA) and zonation scheme as organised by the local governing body and a local NGO. The secondary goal was to assess the diversity and abundances of species with key ecological and commercial (fishery and potential tourism) value. The diversity analysis and ecological health analysis provided a baseline for future comparisons of such work in the area, with over 400 species found across multiple phyla. The study yielded a number of additional key findings and areas of concern to be addressed. Firstly, an almost complete collapse of coastal fishery was observed, with most fish greater than approx. 20 cm being absent from all ecosystems. Invertebrate species of commercial value were also found to be greatly depleted. Additionally, the proposed MPA as decided by the local bodies and stakeholders was found to encompass almost exclusively the ecosystems with the highest levels of degradation and siltation, and lowest levels of biodiversity. Included within the report are a number of suggested amendments to help resolve both of these serious concerns, including the proposition of Alternate and Extended MPA boundaries, based on this new data.
Full-text available
The octocoral Nanipora kamurai is the fifth species of octocoral described with an aragonite skeleton. So far, it has only been known from a single location in Okinawa, Japan. Here, we report on the second recorded location of the genus Nanipora, in the Gulf of Thailand, where its colonies were found in relatively high densities. A total of 143 separate Nanipora colonies were counted in transects on a coral reef at Koh Tao, Thailand. They were found living on dead coral skeletons and on the shell of a living Tridacna squamosa clam. Phylogenetic analyses of cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI) and mitochondrial mismatch repair protein (mtMutS) sequences showed that they belong to N. kamurai or to a close relative of this species. Additionally, a symbiotic relationship with Symbiodinium was observed for the first time in Nanipora, confirmed by sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA (ITS-rDNA) of the dinoflagellate.
It is well recognized that the marine resources of the Philippines are increasingly and severely damaged by climate change and human interventions, including overfishing and destructive fishing. To manage its marine resources, the government has implemented marine protected area (MPA) systems, expecting the involvement of local communities in its management. Although over 1,600 MPAs had been established by 2014, it is reported that they are not effectively managed. The purpose of the study is to determine the current conditions of MPAs in the Philippines using the MPA Management Effectiveness Assessment Tool (MEAT) developed in 2010, and to identify how MEAT reflects reality through interviews at two MPAs. The MEAT data analysis shows that MEAT has not yet been fully utilized and its information is not representative of all the MPAs in the country. So far, as based on the information provided by MEAT, less than half of the MPAs are effectively managed and management effectiveness is not related to the age of the MPA or evenly distributed across regions. The field study, although limited by the fact that it is based on only two MPAs, raises the question as to whether or not local evaluation has been conducted as intended. Unlike the high expectations of communities as effective MPA management entities, local people in the two cases rely more on local government. The results suggest the necessity of further studies on monitoring the MEAT evaluation process and the importance of field studies regarding the effectiveness of community-based MPA management.
Most of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Philippines are small-sized and community-based, and their contribution to the conservation efforts have been usually overlooked. This paper will present the results of the biological assessment study conducted in three community-based MPAs in Southern Iloilo, Philippines. Each MPA has a 2-ha no-take zone and this size is way below the recommended optimal size of 10–100 km². Results show that fish biomass showed an overall increase of about 1–5 times. This is attributed to both an increase in abundance and in fish size. Fish in this survey conducted in 2013 were about 2.3–3.3 times the size of fish in the 2007 baseline data. Macroepifaunal abundance increased 2 to 8 times across the three MPA sites. However, live hard coral cover showed a parallel ∼40% decrease across all sites, which can be attributed to several factors. The conservation goals of these MPAs have been attained. However, the results of biological assessments still need to be correlated with a study on the socioeconomic impact of the MPAs in the community to be able to arrive at good management decisions.
The recently described aragonite calcium-carbonate skeleton forming octocoral species Nanipora kamurai (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Octocorallia: Helioporacea) is known from only one locality in Okinawa, Japan. This locality, Ama Beach on Zamami Island, is a shallow (1 to 1.5 m) sandy reef moat popular with recreational swimmers and snorkelers during summer months. Additionally, the species has been reported to be rare at this site, although no concrete survey data existed. This study quantitatively examined the rarity of N. kamurai at this site via examining all rocks and rubbles within a transect survey (n=6) of 2400m2. Our results show that N. kamurai is indeed low in number, with only 8 colonies found over the entire survey area. Of coral rubble and rocks examined, only slightly more than 1% of rocks had N. kamurai colonies (8/739 rocks), for a density of 0.003 colonies per m2. As this species is known from only this location and additionally low in abundance, local management to ensure the designated recreational swimming area at Ama Beach does not overlap with the colonies’ direct habitat should be undertaken until additional populations at other locations can be confirmed.