Located at the apex of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines is acknowledged as the world's center of shore fish biodiversity, and millions of Filipinos depend on these coastal resources for food and livelihood. In order to protect the coral reefs that form the base of many of these coastal ecosystems, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established throughout the country. However, although there is evidence of the benefits that come from establishing MPAs, there is still a need to improve their effectiveness by addressing the need for integrating environment, socio-economic, and governance pillars. In view of this, the present study used a multidisciplinary method of gathering data to measure the effectiveness of MPAs. The study also highlights the knowledge, attitude, and perception of stakeholders as the overlap between the three pillars of MPA sustainability, which were measured by conducting household surveys within the coastal community in which they are located. Based on the results of the data collection it was found that despite the efforts to inform the public of the existence of a protected area, a gap still remains between the knowledge of stakeholders and the actual coral cover/reef health. The Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) also served as a useful framework to visualize the results of the newly proposed Sustainability Evaluation of Marine Protected Areas Index (SEMPAI). It is hoped that through future studies this index (though the multiple indicators that it uses) will be able to determine the efficiencies and inefficiencies of Decision-Making Units (DMUs), helping to improve the management and long-term sustainability of coastal settlements.
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