Coastal Resource Management, Integrating Coastal Resource Assessment and Validation, Carrying Capacity, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Province of Zambales (CRMinC3DZ): A System Approach

Philippines is the second largest archipelagic country in the world and the apex of “Coral Triangle” (CT), the world’s center of marine diversity. It is also one of the 18-megadiversity countries hosting 75% of global diversity (Heaney and Mittermeier, 1997 as cited by CTI). The entire CT region contains 76% of known coral species, 37% of known coral reef fish species and 33% of world’s coral reefs.
Coastal zones have mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs. They provide economic goods and ecosystem services. In the Philippines, they significantly contribute to gross domestic product and provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities. However, degradation exists because of threats and pressures which are multi-dimensional, such as population growth, industrialization, coastal development, inappropriate and conflicting land uses, mining, use of destructive fishing gears and aquaculture malpractices. Furthermore, goods and services derived from coastal ecosystems are undervalued thus, activities with financial gains are preferred than coastal resource conservation. Moreover, carrying capacity of coastal zones has not been evaluated, thus, contributing to problems in coastal resources.
About 20% of the total populations in coastal municipalities of Zambales are highly dependent on the coastal and marine resources as sources of food and livelihood. 11, 635 artisanal fishers in Zambales rely on fishing as a major source of income (PhilReefs, 2014).
Zambales is a province situated in Central Luzon, bounded on the north by Pangasinan, Tarlac and Pampanga on the east; Bataan on the south; and West Philippine Sea on the west. It has an aggregate area of 3714.40 km2 with two pronounced seasons: dry (October to June) and wet (July to September).
The study will cover coastal barangays of four municipalities of the province of Zambales, namely, thirteen (13) from Palauig, ten (10) from Masinloc, eight (8) Candelaria and eleven (11) from Sta. Cruz.
Rampant illegal fishing activities have contributed to the degradation of marine environment of Palauig which eventually lead to the decrease in fish catch (BFAR and DENR, 2010). Population increase along Masinloc’s coastline has also increased resource use and development. Mangrove ecosystems are threatened by aquaculture conversion, land use change and runoffs from catchments degraded by clearing of upland vegetation and intensive agriculture (Empeno & Gregorio, 2015). Municipalities of Candelaria and Sta. Cruz share the same sources of environmental degradation which are dynamite fishing, soil erosion and quarrying (Paz-Alberto; BFAR and DENR, 2010).
The absence of coastal resources valuation is one of the major reasons why coastal resources are being threatened. The economic values of the coastal ecosystem services are often underestimated in cost benefit analyses for conservation versus other alternative land uses such as shoreline constructions, ports and other poorly planned engineering works. Thus, proper accounting and valuation of the multiple services provided by coastal ecosystems is important for a more efficient choice in policy making decisions. Accurate estimates for the economic value of ecosystems are also needed to justify its sustainable development and maintenance.
Fisheries management in the Philippines is still essentially based on the traditional top-down sectoral approach that uses licenses and permits as the main management tool, which was designed for optimum exploitation as the primary goal. Although FAO promotes ecosystem approach to fisheries in Southeast Asia, the organization recognizes the need for frequent follow-up activities that should include a wide range of stakeholders, particularly policy-makers from different regions, backgrounds and nationalities (FAO, 2009).
Tourism in Zambales exacerbates the coastal resource degradation. Carrying capacity, as a planning tool, is important in many tourism areas. It ensures few and tolerable impacts on natural resources. There is a need to determine the tourism capacity of a certain site to make its operation sustainable and lasting. Aside from providing a steady source of income to local community, it ensures high level of satisfaction for visitors and it is fortunate that the recent policies are geared towards these ends, such as Executive Order No. 111 (Guidelines for Ecotourism Development in the Philippines) and RA 9593(Tourism Act of 2009).
Coastal resource degradation becomes more complex due to climate change phenomenon and occurrence of natural hazards. UNFCCC emphasizes that change of climate is attributed directly and indirectly to human activities that alter the composition of the global atmosphere. The starting point for reducing disaster risk lies in the knowledge of the hazard and vulnerability and of the ways in which these are changing in the short and long term, followed by action taken on the basis of that knowledge (UNISDR, 2005).
People need to adapt and be resilient amidst the changing climate. Focused aspect of this study is the livelihood of the people based on the premise that they need to be economically stable to be adaptive and resilient. Green technology innovation from seaweeds will be investigated in terms of its technical and economic feasibility. A protocol will be developed in order for seaweeds to be an instant food and will be made available in times of disaster.
The study on coastal resource management will be conducted applying systems approach for the coastal zones of the Province of Zambales. As a system, Zambales has sub-systems which are both interacting and interconnected with each other that can be classified into bio-physical (biodiversity in coastal and terrestrial ecosystems, fish stock, topography, climate and land use), social (demographic profile and social services) and economic sectors (current and alternative livelihoods and tourism). Assessment of disaster risk, hazard and vulnerabilities of coastal ecosystems and climate change adaptation strategies will be integrated as data inputs from different mentioned sectors using Gurobi to get the optimal solution. Gurobi is a state-of-the-art mathematical programming software for prescriptive analytics.
Local government units will be provided with optimal coastal resource management options that are scientifically-based, i.e., parameters will be measured or quantified. Ultimately, the communities will be resilient to the changing climate by being informed on their environmental conditions, potential alternative livelihoods and their active participation to achieve their goals.