Sanctuaries for seahorses and shallow seas

Project Seahorse works with local communities and governments to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) where threatened animals and ecosystems can survive, recover, and thrive. No-take zones are an important tool for protecting our shallow seas from overfishing and habitat loss. 

Our work / MPA map / Field stories / Why protect shallow seas? 

(Banner photo: Luciano Candisani/iLCP) 

 
 
Marine protected areas are no-take sanctuaries where animals and habitats can survive, recover, and thrive in the absence of fishing and other human pressures. Photo: Claudio Contreras Koob/iLCP

Marine protected areas are no-take sanctuaries where animals and habitats can survive, recover, and thrive in the absence of fishing and other human pressures. Photo: Claudio Contreras Koob/iLCP

 

 

BY THE NUMBERS

150,000

Number of people who depend on Danajon Bank, where much of our MPA work is focused, for food and livelihoods


245

Size, in square hectares, of Sinandigan MPA, the largest reserve we've helped establish


35
(and counting)

Number of MPAs we have established with local communities in the Philippines


17

Years we've been studying Danajon Bank, creating one of the longest-running datasets on effective MPAs

 

 

 

 

What we do

Helping ecosystems to recover, improving food security for fishing communities

Project Seahorse has been leading MPA research and implementation for nearly two decades. We help to set up governance structures and secure infrastructure such as guardhouses and patrol boats for communities to enforce the boundaries of their MPAs.

Collaborating with local communities, we have established 35 no-take MPAs in Danajon Bank, a rare and threatened double barrier coral reef system in central Philippines — with more reserves in the works.

Our research shows measurable increases in fish numbers in many of the MPAs. Threatened marine animals such as seahorses and vital habitats such as coral reefs and seagrasses are thriving there in the absence of human pressures. 

In 2014, we expanded two MPAs to protect nearby mangrove forests — habitat critical to juvenile fish and invertebrates. In these coastal forests, young animals find protection from predators and grow before they move to coral reefs as adults. Mangroves are also crucial for preventing coastal erosion and protect coastlines from storms. 

These and all of our MPAs play an important role for food security, allowing community fishing grounds to recover from overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and other harmful activities.

Making MPAs more effective

Our network of MPAs doubles as a conservation laboratory for the world. Tracking the progress of the reserves over the past 17 years, our team of researchers uses this constantly evolving dataset to formulate cutting-edge marine resource management tools for governments and communities, as well as for our own conservation work. Read more about our MPA research

 
 

MAP OF PROJECT SEAHORSE MPAs

We've established 35 MPAs across the reef for a total area of over 250 square hectares. Image courtesy ZSL

We've established 35 MPAs across the reef for a total area of over 250 square hectares. Image courtesy ZSL

 

 

Stories from the field