The Marine Protected Areas Support Network (MSN), in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP) “Agos ng Buhay” once again hosted the Para el MAR: MPA Awards and Recognition last October 19-20, 2017 at the Iloilo Convention Center, Iloilo City. Around 250 guests from government agencies, local government units, partners from the academe, non-government agencies and development partners graced the event and extended their support to the finalists and winners.
The Para el MAR (“for the sea”) is a biennial event to showcase the country’s best performing MPAs. MSN believes that the establishment of this kind of incentive system, together with standards and processes for the management of the coastal and marine resources, helps strengthen and sustain current management efforts based on science.
“Para el MAR shows those who share their good practices in marine conservation and protection, from practicing more responsible fishing to ecotourism and mainstreaming social enterprises for livelihood, industries and the maritime sector, to inspire MPAs in the Philippines,” says Dr. Perry Alino, MSN Coordinator. “It is an event for the sea, which is our life and our hope. It (the sea) helps provide us the air we breathe, the food we eat and the place we live in, our home.”
Now on its sixth production since MSN was formed in 2007, a total of 14 locally-managed MPAs and 3 MPA networks competed for the top prize. As MSN continues to recognize best locally managed MPAs and MPA networks, this year proves to be remarkable because of the introduction of a new category specific for protected areas with a marine component under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. For the Most Outstanding NIPAS Category, eight sites were chosen as finalists.
The two-day program started with presentations by the finalists. The Para el MAR also served as venue for the launching of DENR Biodiversity Resources Information Network Group (BRING) – HoPE (Hub of People and Environment) and the DOST funded BRING (Biodiversity Research and Information Network Group) – HoME (Hub of Marine Ecosystems). The group aims to promote management, research and other collaborative efforts on marine biodiversity in the Philippines through the integration of information, increased collaboration/partnerships among key players and enhancing skills in marine biodiversity research and conservation.
Other side events include the presentation of GIZ PAME supported Protected Areas, launching of CCRES’ Spatial Tools for MPA Design and Fisheries Management, and Blue Economy Forum by the Policy Integration and Gap Analysis component of the DENR Coastal Assessment for Rehabilitation Enhancement: Capability Development and Resiliency of EcoSystems (CARE-CaDRES) under CMEMP. An exhibit also featured MSN partners and their work. They distributed materials to guests to promote their programs, projects, and causes.
“We continue to commend and welcome this noble effort of the University of the Philippines thru the MSN in recognizing the work of our local and national MPA managers and we congratulate all the winners on all categories”, Director Mundita Lim of the DENR- BMB said. She added that the UP-Marine Science Institute have always been a major partner of the DENR in intensifying efforts in protecting the marine biodiversity of the country thru the establishment and strengthening of Marine Protected Areas under the NIPAS Act as well as in supporting the locally-managed MPAs.
The Para el MAR capped off with the MPA Awards Night. Ms. Antoinette Taus, founder of Communities Organized for Resource Allocation, and Mr. Miguel Azcuna from the UP MSI hosted the awards night.
The Agsalin Fish Sanctuary in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro bagged the 1st place for the Outstanding Locally-managed MPA Category followed by the Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary in Masbate City, Masbate, and by the Mantalip Marine Reserve in Bindoy, Negros Oriental.
For the Outstanding NIPAS MPA Category, the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in Guimaras province won 1st place followed by the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu province and by the Palaui Island Protected Landscape & Seascape in Cagayan province.
The Oriental Mindoro MPA & Law Enforcement Network claimed the Outstanding MPA Network award.
And to recognize exemplary performance in introducing and consistently promoting best practices, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and the Batangas MPA and Bantay Dagat Network were given Special Recognition. It was also during the Awards Night when the Best Mangrove Awards of the Zoological Society of London Philippines was formally launched.
“We at the DENR will ensure that the support to these activities will be sustained thru the Agos ng Buhay Program or CMEMP”, the Director Lim further added.
Para el MAR will not be possible without the help of the following partners: special thanks to BFAR- NFRDI, ADB CTI-SEA, the Zoological Society of London, Haribon Foundation, WWF, CCRES, Conservation International, and Communities Organized for Resource Allocation. The event was co-presented by DOST, DA-BFAR, DOST-PCAARRD, Smartseas, Oceana, GIZ, USAID, and Rare.
“We have the responsibility to use it wisely for our next generations, in perpetuity because seeing is believing and based on the lessons learned we not only see the beauty and its bounties, but also how the experiences in caring for a diverse life can be sustained forever” said Dr. Perry Alino, MSN Coordinator as he concluded the awards night.