An effective marine protected area (MPA) Network is a collection of MPAs functioning as a unit in order to achieve its social and biological goals. This is the key feature of the Oriental Mindoro MPA and Fishery Law Enforcement Network that gave them edge over other entries from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and the distinction as the best performing MPA Network in the country as conferred by the Marine Protected Area Support Network during the 2017 Para El Mar awards held in Iloilo last 19-20 Oct 2017.
During the last 5 years since the formal establishment of the Network in 2010, the Oriental Mindoro saw significant management rating improvements by tackling the most pressing concerns that a truly functional network should hurdle as a marine biodiversity conservation and management unit.
The Network under the direction of the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Agriculture Office in partnership w/ Malampaya Foundation’s (MFI) Verde Island Passage Marine Conservation Program, was able to facilitate the improved management and enforcement of component MPA sites, the renewal of a province-wide conservation partnership, the formulation of an enforcement strategy, the creation and provision of equipment for the Oriental Mindoro Resource Monitoring Team, regular information and education campaigns and youth yamps, maintenance of MPA boundary markers and signages, increase in budget for coastal resource management of local governments, capacity building of managers and partner people’s organisations, provision of conservation incentives, updating and adoption of MPA plans, capacity building of volunteer rangers and provision of MPA guardhouses, and regular coastal clean-up and underwater COTs collection. These are the most important and crucial social drivers that made possible the apparent and significantly improved biophysical and management indicators of nearly 70% of the 31 MPA sites that compose the network, a feat that no other MPA Network in country could match by scale and proportion.