Coral Reefs

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 307–319

Management histories of Sumilon and Apo Marine Reserves, Philippines, and their influence on national marine resource policy

  • G. R. Russ
  • A. C. Alcala

DOI: 10.1007/s003380050203

Cite this article as:
Russ, G. & Alcala, A. Coral Reefs (1999) 18: 307. doi:10.1007/s003380050203


 The histories of management of the Sumilon and Apo marine reserves in the Philippines provide a stark contrast. Both began with marine conservation and education programs at the community level, initiated by the Marine Laboratory of Silliman University in 1973 at Sumilon, and in 1976 at Apo. At both islands community support for the “no take” reserve concept evolved gradually, via perceived benefits of increased local fish yields and income from tourism. However, Sumilon reserve has been fished down twice (in 1984,1992), and was still being fished in December 1998. Apo reserve has been protected from fishing successfully for 16 y (1982–1998). The management histories of these two marine reserves are the longest and most detailed available for coral reefs. Scientific data spanning 1976–1993 for Sumilon and 1980–1993 for Apo have provided some of the best available evidence of the utility of such reserves as management tools in coral reef fisheries. At Sumilon, collapse of reserve protection in 1984, after 9.5 y of restrictions on fishing, led to significant declines in reef fisheries yields in areas adjacent to the reserve. At Apo, continuous protection from 1982 to 1993 has led to consistent build up of fish in the reserve and some evidence that local fish yields have increased. The unique time series of scientific data obtained from Sumilon and Apo islands are the result of their distinct management histories. The greater success of management at Apo was due to community support for the reserve concept being actively maintained for the past 16 y. Socio-political factors caused the level of community support for the Sumilon reserve to wax and wane over this period. Both case histories have had a profound effect on marine resource management in the Philippines. As marine reserve models they had substantial influence on the design of the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS). Policy now encourages co-management between the National government and local communities, with a strong emphasis on decentralization of decision making and recognition of local territorial use rights in fisheries.

Key words Community based managementCoral reef fisheriesFisheries managementMarine policyMarine reservesPhilippines

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. R. Russ
    • 1
  • A. C. Alcala
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine Biology, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Queensland, 4811, Australia e-mail:
  2. 2.Development Academy of the Philippines, DAP Building, San Miguel Avenue, Pasig, Metro Manila, PhilippinesXX