PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in Cagayancillo, Palawan has been awarded the Platinum Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) Award in Chile during the 4th International Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4).

GLORES, the first-ever awards for superlative marine protected areas (MPAs), is designed as an innovative strategy to incentivize decision-makers to establish protected areas that safeguard marine life and promote opportunities for sustainable tourism.

Maria Retchie Pagliawan, Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) research officer, said Friday morning that the famed reef was one of three marine protected areas around the world that were recognized as first awardees of the GLORES in Chile on September 5 by the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI).

“The TPAMB is honored to have received such a prestigious award given to no-take marine protected areas around the world. The first-ever GLORES meant recognition of the most effective MPAs according to science-based standards, and we are happy that the Philippines had been awarded through Tubbataha,” Pagliawan told PNA in an interview.

She said the management will continue to implement conservation programs of the park to maintain its ecological integrity and comply to audit that will be undertaken every five years.

The audit is to ensure that platinum awardees are maintaining the standards for which they have been recognized.

“This award is dedicated to all our partners whose contributions are important or we will not arrive at this proud juncture,” Pagliawan stated.

The other two 2017 awardees were Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles of ocean waters of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; and Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary located some 506 kilometers off the coast of Colombia.

The award for Tubbataha was received by delegates to the IMPAC4 Norievill Espana and Lea Avilla of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB).

The objective of the new award system is to upsurge the volume and quality of protected marine area coverage in the world to meet the United Nations (UN) goal of 10% of the ocean protected by 2020 and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) goal of 30% of the ocean protected by 2030.

To date, the MPAtlas claimed only three percent of oceans in the world have been designated as MPA of any kind, and only 1.6% is strongly protected in no-take marine reserves, the most effective form of conserving and recovering marine life.

Tubbataha contains no less than 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles. (PNA)