The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 islands and with a coastline exceeding 36,000km in length, it has a marine environment containing one of the richest concentrations of marine life in the world (Roberts, et al., 2002). The Philippines hosts important aggregations of booby, noddy, tern and frigatebird species, all of which have declined during the last century as a result of fighting, human encroachment, pollution and introduced predators (Jensen, 2009). Thus, the lasting strongholds are the remaining uninhabited islands, especially those within the Sulu Sea where the Tubbataha National Marine Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site (
The priority species for research and description of marine IBAs in the Philippines are the Chinese Crested Tern (CR), Christmas Island Frigatebird (CR), and the Streaked Shearwater (regional endemic) as well as booby and noddy species occurring in the country.
The national priorities for the Philippines comprise:
o Identifying non-breeding sites for Chinese Crested Tern, Christmas Island Frigatebird and Streaked Shearwater
o Gathering historical records of occurrence for these three species
o Confirming breeding and non-breeding numbers at key colonies through boat-based survey
o Surveying all Great Crested Tern colonies to look for Chinese Crested Tern (CCT)
o Raising awareness of CCT using a factsheet/poster and hold regional training programme on identification of CCT for fishermen, cruise ships and yachts
o Updating range map for Christmas Island Frigatebird and identify foraging radius around roosts
o Encouraging diving boats travelling between the Philippines and Palau to report non-breeding Streaked Shearwater sightings
o Clarifying population declines of booby species and consider tracking species in future
o Surveying priority areas to identify potential new marine IBAs
Government's support/relevant policy
The Philippines has had 35 years of experience with MPAs, of which there are now 1300, and the President has recently increased the size of the Tubbataha Reef MPA from 30,000 to 90,000 hectares. However, half of the current MPAs are still less than 10 hectares in size, and only around 15% are managed properly. Seabirds are generally not included in the current MPA planning process. The Spratley Islands are an important area for seabirds, but comprise territory disputed by 6 countries, including the Philippines. This causes logistical and political problems when it comes to conducting research and promoting the site as an IBA/MPA, although all countries involved agree to the importance of the islands for seabirds. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.
Petrels and shearwaters
Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans
IUCN Red List Status
The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.
BirdLife International (2010). 1st Asian Marine IBA Workshop Report. Held 14-16 April 2010, JICA Chikyu-hiroba, Tokyo, Japan. BirdLife International internal report.
Jensen, A. E. 2009. Conservation of seabirds and threatened avifauna in the Cagayan Ridge Marine Biodiversity Conservation Corridor, the Sulu Sea, Philippines. Conservation International Philippines. Retrieved on [18th September 2012] from: http://www.conservation.org/global/philippines/publications/Documents/Seabirds-Cagayan_Ridge.pdf
Ong, P. S., Afuang, L. E. and Rosell-Ambal, R. G. eds. (2002) Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Priorities: A Second Iteration of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
BirdLife International (2021) Country profile: Philippines. Available from http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/philippines. Checked: 2021-10-16