In celebration of the World Ocean Day 2022, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)—has signed a landmark agreement with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to address gaps in protection and conservation of the country’s coastal and marine ecosystems.

With the theme “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean,” the World Ocean Day celebration was highlighted by the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing on June 8 led by DENR-BMB OIC Director Natividad Y. Bernardino and PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio M. Abu.

“Working hand in hand with PCG will strengthen our capacity to protect our ocean and marine ecosystems moving forward. With alarming threats the ocean faces today, we need collective action to protect it as it ultimately sustains all of us,” DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said in a statement.

The monumental partnership aims to harmonize the conservation and protection efforts between the DENR-BMB and PCG, particularly in deterring illegal activities within marine protected areas (MPAs) and maintaining the balance and ecological integrity of the country’s marine ecosystems.

“As a bureau supervising marine protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS, we have certain limitations in terms of enforcement and logistics. There are gaps in addressing marine-related incidences and violations of the law. So there’s really a need to synergize protocols between the PCG and the BMB as well as collaborate to augment each other’s resources,” Bernardino pointed out.

Moreover, PCG Deputy Chief of Coastal Guard Staff for Marine Environmental Protection CG-9 Captain Lazaro Ernesto C. Valdez Jr. hopes that the MOA signing is only just the beginning of a clearer and more cohesive cooperation with the DENR.

The MOA establishes the exchange of technical expertise, information, and assistance on the demarcation and marker buoy installation of MPAs under the NIPAS framework; facilitation of capacity-building activities; and development of reporting mechanisms on marine vessel-related incidents, such as oil spills and ship grounding.

“Enforcement must be participatory, consultative, science-based, and sustainable. We will be committed. You can count on our sincerity and active involvement in putting this agreement to motion,” Abu said.

The partnership will also streamline joint activities and assistance during water quality monitoring; enforcement of wildlife laws; and marine research expeditions within MPAs, West Philippine Sea, and the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve.

Joint marine protection activities, such as coastal and underwater cleanups and intensified communication, education and public awareness activities, will also be implemented.

To begin the partnership, Bernardino said that the DENR-BMB will craft the operational plan anchored on the stipulations of the MOA to identify the short-term and long-term goals and activities, and ensure the funding complementation between the two agencies.###