Angel C. Alcala


Angel C. Alcala


Biologist Angel Alcala was named a National Scientist of the Philippines by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2014 for his work on marine protected areas and herpetology. His pioneering establishment of no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in the 1970s helped the Philippines increase and preserve marine biodiversity, including fisheries. Alcala shared his Pew fellowship with his longtime collaborator, Professor Garry R. Russ of James Cook University in Australia. Their individual and joint research showed that no-take marine reserves can play a major role in building fish abundance in reserves and increasing fish yields in adjacent areas through “spillover” (net export of adult fish). With their fellowship, they conducted a comparative study of fish stocks in five existing or new reserves in the Philippines and catch rates in surrounding areas to further evaluate “spillover” potential and the factors that improve it. Alcala and Russ have been working to strengthen community organizations responsible for the long-term protection and management of several marine reserves and sanctuaries. They completed underwater censuses and videos to map seven newly established or potential MPAs in the Bohol Sea (formerly Mindanao Sea). In addition, they have helped four villages that will be affected by new marine reserves to organize and plan for the future. Since 1999, they have set up or supported the creation of 18 no-take marine reserves in the Bohol Sea in collaboration with local communities and governments. Their community-based approach has proved very successful, with three new proposals to set up MPAs being initiated by local governments in just one year. No-take MPAs have been institutionalized by the Philippine government and are now part of the provisions of the country’s Fisheries Code. There are now more than 1,000 MPAs throughout the Philippines.

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