An international council of marine conservation experts awarded the Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) in Occidental Mindoro the prestigious Blue Park Award for exceptional marine wildlife conservation.
The award was given at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It was received by ARNP Protected Area Superintendent Krystal Villanada and Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Celia Anna Feria.
In a statement, the DENR said the international council of marine conservation experts which recognized the ARNP was assembled by the United States-based non-government organization Marine Conservation Institute.
DENR OIC Secretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr., said the award serves as an inspiration for the national government to further fortify its initiatives to conserve and protect marine protected areas in the country.
“Such recognition bestowed upon the Apo Reef Natural Park is a testament “of the hard work of our people at the Protected Area Management Office and all the stakeholders who have been with us in protecting and conserving this marine protected area,” said Adobo.
“This award is an impetus not only for our hardworking men and women in the field but also to the national government to boost the conservation efforts in our marine protected areas through our policies, programs, and collaboration with various stakeholders,” he added.
Aside from ARNP, also awarded were Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area and Colombia’s Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Park.
The DENR said that the ARNP is the second platinum-level, the highest possible recognition, Blue Park Award recipient in the Philippines next to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, which was recognized in 2017.
The Blue Park Award recognizes outstanding efforts by national governments, non-profit organizations, marine protected area managers, and local communities in the effective protection of marine ecosystems.
Following this international recognition of the ARNP, Villanda said they are looking forward to expanding our networks and collaborations with different organizations to ensure a sustainable ocean for the future generation.