Del Carmen named Area 13’s Finest Coastal City

S.iargao Island – The municipality of Del Carmen, located in Siargao Island, was recently named the Big Winner of the Caraga Archipelago as part of the Malinis and Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) program of the Ministry of Agriculture – Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Office, which honors the most outstanding coastal communities in the world .

Del Carmen Mangrove Forest by Erwin Mascarinas Photo via DOT

Located off the mainland of the Surigao Del Norte province, the city has been recognized for its exemplary efforts to protect and preserve the marine environment defined by the BFAR.

The MMK program has five general criteria: the absence of illegal fishing, compliance with the closed fishing season, the establishment of marine protected areas, clean coastal waters without domestic and industrial waste, and effective programs for the protection and rehabilitation of mangroves.

The community is a multi-year recipient of local government awards including Galing Pook Public Service Innovation in 2018. In November she will qualify for the national selection of the top winners of the MMK.

According to Alfredo Coro II, Deputy Mayor of Del Carmen, the city’s healthy environment was key to its economic sustainability during the lockdown in the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Investing in protecting marine reserves and mangrove forests has given us enough fish to feed the many, despite a sudden surge in fishermen and a reduction in fishing costs for the consuming public,” he said.

He noted that due to the displacement of workers from other sectors, the number of border fishermen has increased by 1,500, which the ecosystem could absorb.

“Protecting our mountains and watersheds also provided a good source of water for irrigation, which was enough when several people started growing their food to support the farms. The non-disturbance of the forest trees also attracted good rain, which was enough to pollute our farms, ”he added.

Coro said that as a result of the pandemic, they are now focusing on the role of fishermen as leaders in food security and the importance of agriculture in maintaining the livelihood of the community.

The vice mayor noted that the city government has encouraged people to return to farming, providing seeds and buying crops to supply the community.

He expressed hope that the locals will continue to farm and fish even if tourist activities resume in Siargao, which Conde Nast has consistently rated as one of the best islands in the world.

Del Carmen prides itself on its 4,000-acre contiguous mangrove forest, which is the largest in the archipelago and has contributed to an outstanding coastal ecosystem.

This ecosystem is the habitat of a rare species of saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, and helps maintain the island’s ecological balance by providing abundant breeding grounds for aquatic life.

The city is also in demand for the Sugba Lagoon, a body of salt water hidden in limestone cliffs.

Del Carmen's mangrove forest by Erwin Mascarina's image via DOTDel Carmen’s mangrove forest by Erwin Mascarina’s image via DOT

The city government is a partner in Shore It Up, Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s award-winning corporate social responsibility program that aims to build a nationwide network of local governments to conserve marine and coastal ecosystems.

Under a local version called Siargao It Up, it has performed underwater cleaning by volunteer divers from Metro Pacific, Run for the Mangroves International Marathon, Strengthening Bantay Dagat units, junior environmental scouts for elementary school students, and ecotourism tours of the mangrove forest, and Sugba Lagoon among others .

The city is also home to the Mangrove Reproduction and Information Center, the first of its kind in the southern Philippines, promoting an integrated community approach to education, mangrove reforestation, sustainable tourism and livelihoods.

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