Malampaya Sound in Palawan is tagged as the "Fish Bowl of the Philippines" due to the abundance of many commercially-important fish species. Because of its physical and biological significance, it was declared a protected landscape and is under administrative jurisdiction of the DENR (Department of Environment & Ntaural Resources)
Palawan Island, under Region 4B (MIMAROPA), is among the top-producing regions of blue swimming crabs in the Philippines. Malampaya accounts to 10% of the total BSC production in the region. At least 6 crab meat processing plants are located in the Sound, all of which are concentrated in the area of Baong or New Guinlo. Fishing is the primary source of livelihood in the area. Other fishery include small shrimps, green mussels, and groupers.
Malampaya Sound is divided into inner and outer sound characterized by shallow brackishwater and deep saltwater, respectively. It is home to the critically-endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins. The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) has surfaced as an ETP that is being affected by the blue swimming crab fishery. This has been reported in several studies conducted in Malampaya Sound from 2002 to 2008 (Dolar et al., 2002; Ingles, 2003; Smith et al., 2004; Gonzales & Matillano, 2008). O. brevirostris is listed as “Critically Endangered” in the IUCN Red List with an estimated population of only 77 and a decreasing population trend (Smith and Beasley, 2004). Gonzales and Matillano (2008) reported a total of 29 deaths from year 2001 to 2006. Gill nets spanning upto 1 km with extended hours of soaking has caused incidental entanglement of dolphins several years back. Fishermen reportedly do this to increase their catch to satisfy their family's daily needs.
According to WWF, fishing is the main source of livelihood for many families in the area. Due to the growing population, competition for food becomes tight.
In the last few years, the communities have become active partners of WWF, DENR, and the local government in ensuring the population of the Irrawaddy dolphins in Malampaya. While these mammals were regarded least in the past, the many years of educational campaigns on the importance of the dolphins have significantly raised awareness in the communities. It has been found that the dolphins help keep the sea bottom healthy by digging up on food which are mostly crustaceans and cephalopods, thereby mixing the soil nutrients into the water. In the Philippines, Irrawaddy dolphins have been spotted in areas where abundance of crustaceans were reported, blue swimming crab and shrimp included.
At present, incidental entrapment of dolphins in Malampaya Sound were no longer reported.