The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the provincial government of Palawan recognized four of the province’s best marine protected areas (MPAs) at the second annual Palawan MPA Summit held on September 20 in Puerto Princesa City.
USAID Philippines Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks and Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates presented the “Palawan MPAs Empowered through Awards and Recognition to Enrich Marine Life” (PEARL) Award to four USAID-supported MPAs located in Coron, Calamian Islands.
The Siete Pecados Marine Park was named Best Managed MPA while the San Jose MPA was named Best Emerging MPA. The Balisungan MPA and the Bulalaco MPA were also recognized as Best Community Managed MPA and as Best Locally Managed MPA, respectively.
The Calamianes MPA Network—an inter-LGU alliance between Busuanga, Coron, Culion, and Linapacan—also received a special award.
MPAs help protect the Philippines from threats such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that endanger the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities.
“Since 2018, USAID Fish Right has supported local governments and communities in the Calamian archipelago to address biodiversity threats, improve marine ecosystem governance, advance sustainable fisheries management, and increase fish biomass,” said Deputy Mission Director Eubanks.
During the summit, USAID led discussions on environmental law enforcement, the promotion of livelihood and biodiversity-friendly enterprises in MPAs, and community engagement to rehabilitate MPAs affected by Super Typhoon Odette last year.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Eubanks also met with government officials and stakeholders from the Kalayaan Island Group to discuss IUU fishing threats in their area of the West Philippine Sea. During a visit to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, she was able to exchange ideas with members of the local community who were able to start an environmental fund for conservation activities within the national park by participating in community-managed savings and credit associations supported by USAID. She also met several civil society organizations working on conservation in Palawan.
For more than 60 years, USAID has worked with the Philippine government and local organizations to achieve shared development goals, investing more than Php 247.5 billion ($5.1 billion) to support the Philippines since 1961.