Aquasilviculture in the Philippines: The Siruma Case

“Kahit na may pond ka, napapanatili mo yung kagandahan ng mga mangrove area at mangrove trees. Hindi rin makapanirang hanapbuhay iyon sa kanila.

(Even if you have a pond, you retain the beauty of the mangrove area and the mangrove trees. Your livelihood is not destructive.)
Luny Eboña
Municipal Agriculturist, Samahan ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Matandang Siruma
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The people of Siruma live along the San Miguel Bay in Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. Their lives intertwined with water, the coastal communities in Siruma nurture their mangrove-fisheries for their pursuit of sustainable livelihood and their defense against climate change.

Over the years, the people of Siruma have faced many dangers to their coastal and marine resources: the widespread cutting and clearing of mangrove forests for timber and fishpond development, illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, improper solid waste disposal and pollution from toxic chemicals, and the intensifying weather conditions brought about by climate change. Many are still unaware of and resistant to the call for mangrove conservation.

Since 2015, the municipality has partnered with ISO to revive mangrove species within the area. As of 2018, the communities in Siruma have been reforested 97 hectares of mangrove forests.

Learn more about the aquasilviculture stakeholders in Siruma. Below is a button where you can identify the Fisherfolk Organizations (FOs) and Other Partners:

What is Aquasilviculture?

Aquasilviculture is a multi-purpose system that allows for fish production in mangrove forests (Dieta and Dieta 2015).

True to the community’s aspirations of environmental stewardship and self-sufficiency, this system is at the forefront of their efforts to confront these threats, such as the adverse effects brought by climate change. The process involves restoring abandoned fishponds and placing seedlings of mangroves. Cared for and propagated by the community, the once lifeless area begins to flourish. By creating barriers made from bamboo and nets around the mangrove areas, the community can grow crabs, fish, and shellfish without the expense of destroying the mangrove area.  

What benefits does aquasilviculture bring to local communities like Siruma?

Increases Mangrove Conservation Efficiency

One example is the opportunity it gives fisherfolks to breed and feed fishes, crabs, and other flora and fauna which are made readily available to them on a daily basis. Given that the livelihood of these fisherfolk families heavily depends on what they breed and feed in these mangroves, they are given a large economical boost that allows them to work hand in hand with nature (Rao et al. 2018).

Provides an Additional Source of Income

On top of a possibly stable income from each family, the presence of an additional flow of cash also comes with aquasilviculture (Dieta & Dieta 2014). Caring for the fauna within the ponds may bring opportunities such as selling these in wet markets, or within the community. It may even be possible to farm these faunas for personal consumption.

Eases the Production of Fish and Crab

In line with the benefit of additional income, aquasilviculture makes the process of framing fauna easier and more efficient. By caring for the mangroves and farming the fauna simultaneously, the production of fish and crabs becomes easier for the community (Dieta & Dieta 2014). Rather than going into the depths of the ocean, catching and selling fish or crab can be done nearer to the coasts and at shallower depths.  

What strategies have been implemented by ISO to involve the community in mangrove conservation?

(ISO 2015)

Capacity Building

  • PCREA, or the Participatory Coastal Resources and Ecological Assessment hones the knowledge and skills of local and external actors to social and technical research to better understand their existing conditions in coastal communities.
  • Mangrove Management entails various programs such as: the establishment of nurseries and farming plans, trainers training on mangrove and beach forest rehabilitation and conservation, learning visits to Pagbilao Mangrove Experimental Forest and fisherfolk organization.

Mangrove Management

  • Mangrove Nursery Establishment and Farm Planning both involve a seedling bank for 8 mangrove species co-learned on the basic concepts and principles of mangrove nursery establishment and conservation; legal instruments in mangrove protection; and experiences on mangrove conservation.
  • Trainers Training on Mangrove and Beach Forest Rehabilitation and Conservation equips ISO project teams with further training on mangrove management for fisherfolk’s associations.
  • Learning Visits for various fisherfolk organizations to attend lectures and learning involvements on the natural regeneration mangrove plantation on Pagbilao and visit experimental mangrove forest and plantation and regional clonal nursery facilities.

Mangrove and Fishery Law Enforcement

  • Paralegal and Deputation Trainings for Deputy Environment and Natural Resources Officers (DENROs) encourage involved stakeholders to learn on Basic Ecology, State of the Philippine Environment, Forest Laws, Legal Basis in Transporting and Harvesting of Forest Products, Judicial Adjudication of illegally-cut and transported forest products, machineries, and conveyances, Preparation/Filing Court Cases (Arrest Searches and Seizure); New Rules on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Laws, Tree Standard Measurements, and Recent DENR Policy Issuances on Forestry and Paralegal Procedures in Conducting Surveillance and Preparation of Investigation.

Mangrove Protection and Management

  • Mangrove Management Planning allows participants to identify community problems concerning mangrove protection and management, such as decreasing mangrove forest cover, implementation of environmental laws and policies, low awareness on the value of mangroves, among others.
  • Mangrove Nursery Establishment equips barangays to reforest and rehabilitate denuded mangrove areas, abandoned fishponds, and old growth stands.
  • Mangrove Planting provides avenues for stakeholders to plant site-appropriate species of mangrove species in muddy and riverine areas of Siruma.
  • Network Building and Policy Advocacy capacitates local actors in Siruma to strategically partner with each other to institutionalize technical assistance on fisheries and mangrove management, as well as sharing of knowledge and technology for sustainable mangrove management and environmental protection advocacy.

What policies protect the mangrove forests?

(Castro, et al. 2015)
The Fisheries Code of the Philippines and Its Amendment (RA 8550 & RA 10654)

RA 8550 was enacted for the purpose of food security for the Filipinos, the protection of the Filipino fisherfolk, support for the fishery sector, and reinforcing the management and conservation of aquatic resources within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone

The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines (PD 705)

Presidential Decree No. 705 essentially deems the acts of illegal cutting, gathering, and collecting of timber as a criminal offense. Along with this comes a number of other acts that involve illegal and wrongful degradation of land and its resources. are also deemed as criminal.

Administrative Order No. 97-32 presents a set of laws that dictates the repercussions of the production of illegal forest products and the machines connected to them. Here, the government has the right to confiscate any of the illegal products and machines that may pose harm to the environment.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of the Philippines (RA 9003)

Republic Act N. 9003 declares a strict policy to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program for the country. These programs would revolve around the protection of public health and the environment, foster an environmentally friendly process of resource production, segregation and waste, as well as encourage more private and public participation in solid waste management

 Republic Act No. 9147 solidifies that the state will conserve the country’s wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainability through the practices of regulating the collection and trade of wildlife and initiate scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity.

However, Siruma’s thrusts have not always seen success. Some areas also encounter a shortage of participation from male and young members of the community. Community members attribute this to specific factors. For the men, the insufficient funding for sustainable livelihoods diverts their time to odd jobs for subsistence. For the youth, the lack of education about the value of mangroves and fisheries has demotivated them from helping out.

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References (in ASA citation):

Castro, Kayla Marie I., Samantha Mae M. Poblete, Kristine Jane C, Montalla, and Polianne G. Tiamson. 2020. Coastal Conservation: A Youth’s Guide to Select Philippine Environmental Laws. Quezon City: Institute of Social Order.

Dieta, Romeo E. & Florida C. Dieta. 2015. “The Philippine National Aquasilviculture Program.” Retrieved July 26, 2021 (

Institute of Social Order. 2015. “Facilitating Mangrove Management in Siruma, Camarines Sur: Year 1 Report, July 2014 to September 2015.” Unpublished Report. Quezon City: Institute of Social Order.Quitorio, Jerry. 2020. “Women-Led Mangrove Rehabilitation.” Retrieved July 26, 2021 (

Rao, Madhusudhana B. 2018. Aquasilviculture: A Strategy to Preserve the Future for Next Generations Farming. Mumbai : Central Institute of Fisheries Education-.(


Content: Gabby Alcantara, RV Berjay, Ange Encomienda
Layout Design: Dom Pamatmat, Stephen Patacsil, Matt Reyes
Photographs: Luny Eboña, Fabiana Balgemino, Nory Acebar

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A collaborative project of the Institute of Social Order and Intersession 2021 students of SOAN 197.1 & 197.2 (Ateneo Social and Cultural Laboratory) of the Ateneo de Manila University Department of A collaborative project of the Ateneo de Manila AB Sociology students, Ateneo Socio-Cultural Fieldschool, Institute of Social Order (ISO), and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology-Anthropological and Sociological Initiatives of the Ateneo (DSA-ASIA).

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