The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has commended Occidental Mindoro’s Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) for bagging the prestigious Blue Park Award for exceptional marine wildlife conservation at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

The ARNP, along with Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area and Colombia’s Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Park, was selected by an international council of marine conservation experts, which was assembled by the United States-based non-government organization Marine Conservation Institute.

“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.

He pointed out that the award will serve as an inspiration for the national government to strengthen its initiatives to conserve and protect marine protected areas in the country.

“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 said.

ARNP Protected Area Superintendent Krystal Villanada and Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Celia Anna Feria received the award on July 1.

“As ARNP is now being acknowledged globally, we are looking forward to expanding our networks and collaborations with different organizations to ensure a sustainable ocean for the future generation,” Villanada said.

The Blue Park Award recognizes outstanding efforts by national government, non-profit organizations, marine protected area managers, and local communities in the effective protection of marine ecosystems.

“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.”

It joins a growing network of 24 awarded Blue Parks around the globe that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness. ###