Location: Sulu Sea, Philippines
Signs of progress: In the late 1980s, overfishing and destructive fishing practices were rampant here, with coral cover reduced by 50 percent over a five-year period ending in 1989. The 33,200-hectare area is now a national marine park (the only one in the Philippines) and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Non-governmental organizations and the government have worked together to manage the park since its establishment in 1988. The navy, with assistance from NGOs, is patrolling the area to stop illegal fishing. In 1997, all fishing activities were halted within the park and a ranger station was constructed. In 1998, a park management board was put into place. Environmental education materials have been disseminated to stakeholders in the area, and the dive tourism industry is helping to install anchor buoys and regulate the activities of divers on the reefs. The condition of the coral reef substrate has improved remarkably since 1989 and the diversity of fish is exceptionally high.
1. Yasmin Arquize and Alan White, Tales from Tubbataha: Natural History, Resource Use, and Conservation of the Tubbataha Reefs Palawan Philippines (Bandillo ng Palawan Foundation, Philippines, 1994).