Women-Led Mangrove Rehabilitation

Siruma is a 4th class municipality located along San Miguel Bay in the province of Camarines Sur. As a coastal community, the residents of Siruma are largely dependent on marine and coastal resources for their livelihood. These natural resources also help them adapt to climate change. Therefore, the sustainability of these resources is crucial to their survival.

Nonetheless, there are various threats to these resources. Illegal and destructive fishing practices such as dynamite fishing and bottom trawling are rampant in San Miguel Bay. The cutting of mangroves and clearing of mangrove forests for fishpond development are prevalent in Siruma. Improper solid waste disposal is a major issue as well. If not addressed, these will result to the eventual decline of fishery resources in the municipality.

To help address these threats, the ISO entered Siruma in 2009 and facilitated the formation of fisherfolk organizations (FOs) in Siruma. These FOs were trained on community-based coastal resource management (CB-CRM) with a focus on the establishment and management of marine protected areas in Siruma and the operationalization of integrated coastal resources management in San Miguel Bay. Most of the members and leaders of these FOs are women.

One of the active leaders is Jinky Flores, 46, and a single mother to 3 children. Throughout the years, Jinky has been ISO’s ally in capacitating fisherfolk communities, especially women, on CB-CRM. Since 2011, she’s actively involved in the formulation of local fisheries policies and in enhancing the awareness of local stakeholders for the conservation of fishery resources as a member of the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC) of Siruma. Under her leadership, the Samahan ng Mangingisda ng Penitan was recognized by BFAR V in 2014 for their exemplary performance as the caretaker of the Penitan Bay Fish Sanctuary. From 2014 to 2018, she served as one of ISO’s local community organizers for the project entitled, ‘Facilitating Mangrove Management Initiatives in Siruma, Camarines Sur’ which was implemented through the funding support of the Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP, formerly PTFCF).

As a local community organizer, she assisted in the coordination of activities with networks and partner FOs; co-facilitated the organizational strengthening activities for the FOs and the MFARMC; and co-managed the mangrove rehabilitation and fishery law enforcement activities for the said project. Together with ISO, she trained 5 local FOs on coastal resource assessment and afterwards, facilitated their involvement in community-based mangrove rehabilitation, networking, and advocacy. This resulted in developing more champions for mangrove conservation in Siruma. At the end of 2018, they have reforested almost 100 hectares of denuded or depleted mangrove forests in the municipality.

On June 30, 2020, the Siruma Mangrove Area won 1st runner-up in the 1st Best Mangrove Award in the Bicol Region organized by DENR V. It was recognized as one of Bicol Region’s best managed mangrove conservation sites and considered as a best practice model for existing and future mangrove protection initiatives. This would not have been possible without the persistence of the women of Siruma, especially Jinky whose dedication to environmental protection is relentless.

As an FO leader and a barangay councilor who is now on her third term, Jinky continues her advocacy of poverty alleviation and protection of the remaining fishery resources and mangrove forests of Siruma.

Written by For. Jerry Quitorio, ISO Project Coordinator for Siruma

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