Women in the central Philippines have banded together to protect their marine sanctuaries from poachers and illegal fishers. Armed with only paddles and kayaks, these women willingly risk their lives to manage their marine protected area. Philippine waters are teeming with rich coral reefs and fish diversity and abundance, but protecting the seascape is challenging due to illegal fishing and climate change. On the island of Siquijor in the central Philippines, groups of women risk their lives for a cause: to manage and protect their marine sanctuaries. Communities in the central Philippines are heavily dependent on the bounty of the sea, but illegal fishing has decimated coral reefs and impacted fish diversity and abundance in the region. These women are changing that. Armed with a paddle and the knowledge that preserving the reef is the only way to feed and protect her community, Evelyn Malicay was shot at by an illegal fisher while on a patrol. But her efforts led to his arrest. In Siquijor, she is considered a superwoman who will stop at nothing to protect the marine protected area (MPA) here. “Even though I am a woman, I will catch anyone who violates the MPA,” Malicay says. […]

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