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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Pathways for indigenous knowledge engagement on marine biodiversity conservation 

PI: Marivic G. Pajaro, Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc.
US Partner:  Douglas Medin, Northwestern University
Project Dates: June 2012 - May 2015

Project Overview 

The Philippines is a global priority for the conservation of marine biodiversity. The country is also highly dependent on marine resources, with more than one million people directly dependent upon the fisheries sector. This project is based on the belief that local people using indigenous knowledge are capable of solving many environmental challenges, particularly if supported by their jurisdictions. In the Philippines, moving from an exclusive top-down approach to include a bottom-up approach for coastal resource management has become widely accepted as governments decentralize. Even so, local people remain marginalized on issues surrounding natural resource conservation and management. Larger geographical-scale concepts such as biodiversity may be somewhat beyond local knowledge systems and require targeted learning strategies. This project will address the related need for a cross-cultural understanding of environment and biodiversity in fisherfolk cultures. It builds upon fisherfolk social knowledge systems, historic and contemporary cultural profiles, and consideration of economic and political institutions and practices for linked communities.
 
The current knowledge base indicates that Philippine fisherfolk communities develop through a process of allocating and distributing rights over specific resources and places. The researchers heading this project will work with PAMANA, a national alliance of community-based coastal resource managers. The goals will be to develop a protocol for expanding the ecohealth lens to encompass biodiversity conservation within a wide range of fisherfolk communities and to assist them through best practice transfer to be more engaged in their own future sustainability. The project is also intended to facilitate the development of community-based science curriculum for the first Philippine bioregional or biodiversity-based Bachelor of Marine Science program at an academic institution in Aurora Province, northeast Philippines.
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
The research team’s efforts to collect their data and conduct project activities were dramatically limited during the last quarter of 2013 due to the unprecedented number and severity of typhoons that hit the area. After travelling to the most northern municipality of Aurora Province, the team identified the need to have an in-project disaster risk protocol, which is now in the planning stages. The Daluhay research base was hit by the largest typhoon storm surge in a decade, which resulted in significant damage; therefore, managing recovery efforts became a priority. In addition to the typhoons, a devastating earthquake also struck many of the core PAMANA communities last fall, and the team is still working to re-establish communication links. During this time period, regardless of the natural disasters, the research team enhanced their participation through the Aurora Province network. Their paper supporting application of current research for curriculum development was published in the journal Social Science Diliman. The paper attempts to establish the idea of needs-based and reflexive program innovations that are specifically linked to development. The team also drafted a culturally and politically relevant strategy for identifying fisherfolk communities for collaboration research. Through the team’s contributions to meetings on coastal resource management, their Daluhay affiliate of Haribon is now recognized by the Aurora Marine Research and Development Institute and all coastal municipalities as the lead partner for transferring best practices to fisherfolk communities. Working in the municipality of Baler, the team began researching socioeconomic aspects of the fishing industry with the goal of helping to design programs focused on best practices and strategies to alleviate poverty. This effort includes identification of trade routes, availability of fish, level of income/poverty associated with fisherfolk working in boats, boat owners, and imported and exported fish. The team also joined their local government’s efforts to develop a seawall by engaging their national oceanographic expertise to protect a significant portion of the fisherfolk community from storm surges. The local team has partnered with Haribon, based in Aurora Province, to work with two indigenous groups on conservation of the endangered Philippine Eagle. In terms of future outlook, the team is anticipating completion of 50-60 percent planned of data collection on the PEER project within the next six months.
 
  Phillipines Partnership Photo 1
Workshops with local fisherfolk are an ongoing activity.

  Phillipines Partnership Photo 2
The Aurora Province orientation meeting was held with representatives
from each of the eight Municipal Health Offices.

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