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Del Carmen in Siargao named as Caraga’s best coastal village

Del Carmen’s mangrove forest. Photo by Erwin Mascariñas.

The municipality of Del Carmen in Siargao is the best coastal village in the Caraga Region.

That’s according to the Malinis and Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) program of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, which recently named the town as the grand winner for its exemplary efforts in protecting and conserving their marine environment.

The MMK program has five general criteria, which include absence of illegal fishing, observance of closed fishing season, establishment of marine protected areas, clean coastal waters without domestic and industrial wastes, and effective mangrove protection and rehabilitation program.

Del Carmen’s mangrove forest. Photo by Erwin Mascariñas.

Situated in Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte province, Del Carmen is home to a rare saltwater crocodile specie called the crocodylus porosus.

The town takes pride in its 4,000-hectare contiguous mangrove forest—the biggest in the archipelago, which has helped it achieve an outstanding coastal ecosystem. Del Carmen is also sought-after for Sugba Lagoon, a saltwater body of water tucked inside limestone cliffs.

The town’s healthy environment was key in its economic sustainability during the imposition of the lockdown in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mangrove Propagation and Information Center.

“The investments in the protection of the marine protected areas and mangrove forest gave us enough fish to feed the many, despite a sudden increase in fisherfolk, and resulting in lowering of the cost of fisheries for the consuming public,” said Del Carmen vice-mayor Alfredo Coro II.

He noted that due to the displacement of workers from other sectors, its marginal fishermen increased by 1,500, which its ecosystem was able to absorb.

Coro said that as a result of the pandemic, they are now focused on the role of fisherfolk as frontliners for food security, as well as highlighting the importance of farming in sustaining community livelihood.

The hope is for locals to continue farming and fishing, even if tourism activities resume in Siargao, which has been perennially adjudged by Conde Nast as among the world’s best islands.

Kenneth M. del Rosario
Kenneth has been writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer for more than 17 years, covering travel, food, motoring, technology, real estate, and business, among others.