After Tubbataha, Apo Reef Park gets platinum-level Blue Park Award

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 03:42 PM

MANILA — The Apo Reef Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro has received the platinum-level Blue Park Award from the Marine Conservation International at this year's United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, joining Palawan's Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park which was recognized in 2017 for the similar recognition.

The award was received by Protected Area Superintendent Krystal Villanada and Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Celia Anna Feria last week, July 1.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the Apo Reef Natural Park now joins "a growing network of 24 awarded Blue Parks around the globe that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness."

“We are very happy for this recognition bestowed on the Apo Reef Natural Park which 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,” DENR OIC Secretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr. said in a statement.

"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," Adobo also said.

Now that the Apo Reef Natural Park is being acknowledged globally, Villanada said that they are looking forward to expanding their networks and collaborations with different organizations to ensure "a sustainable ocean for the future generation."

The Blue Park Award recognizes outstanding marine protected areas in the world, according to the Marine Conservation Institute.

The award, the institute said, provides funding leverage and ecotourism opportunities and "aligns governments' interests with biodiversity conservation."

"Blue Park status also provides a benchmark that both private and governmental funders can use to measure the impacts of their investments," it added.

The Apo Reef Natural Park protects 3 small islands and its surrounding 34-square-kilometer coral atoll, the second-largest contiguous coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The 275-square-kilometer reef park also serves as a sanctuary for several endangered or critically endangered species, including overfished species.

The park is being managed by the DENR, Protected Area Management Office (PAMO), Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), Local Government Unit of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

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