Philippines’ oldest marine protected area wins 2021 Para El Mar’s Outstanding Locally-Managed MPA Award
Sumilon Island Fish and Marine Sanctuary was hailed as Outstanding Locally-Managed Marine Protected Area (MPA) at the 2021 Para El Mar Awards and Recognition held on September 10, 2021.
Sumilon Island is located in Oslob, Cebu. It is the very first marine protected area (MPA) in our country established in 1974. This locally-managed MPA has a total area of 39 hectares. Home to 71 reef fish species and a variety of hard and soft coral species. It is also the recipient of the Saviours of the Sea Recognition, a special award from the Philippine National Police Maritime Group in this year’s Para El Mar Awards.
The “Para El Mar” which means “for the seas” is a biennial event hosted by Marine Protected Areas Support Network (MSN) that showcases the country’s best performing MPAs to promote effective management and science-based governance. This is in cooperation with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
In the 2021 Para El Mar Awards, the MSN recognized MPAs under three categories, namely, the Outstanding Locally-Managed MPA, the Outstanding Network, and the Best Mangrove Award.
Among the winning protected areas is the MARILAG (Malipot-Rawis-Lagbak) Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve, which received the Best Enforcement Award. It is managed by the Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon local government unit.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Cebu Coastal Resource Management Council (SCCRMC) won the Outstanding Network Award. It is composed of seven municipalities including Oslob which manages the oldest MPA in our country.
Likewise, the Prieto Diaz Mangrove Ecosystem Protect Area bagged the Best Mangrove Award. Prieto Diaz has 1, 034 hectares of mangrove forest that is protected and maintained by Prieto Diaz LGU.
This year marks their 8th time, and their first virtual event since the MSN started in 2007. — (Maribelle Boral-Cabling)