U.S. Peace Corps Enhances PH Marine Conservation

United States Peace Corps staff pose with 60 participants of the Enhancing Marine Protected Area Management training workshop in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.

The United States Peace Corps, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, conducted a four-day training workshop from June 18 to 21 in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, focusing on enhancing marine protected area (MPA) management.

MPAs are crucial for conserving and protecting diminishing coastal resources. To address this challenge, the workshop brought together 60 participants, including 20 Peace Corps volunteers, 20 local government representatives from Luzon and Visayas, and 20 fisherfolk leaders. The goal was to build their capacity in environmental conservation and protection.

During the workshop, participants delved into national and local frameworks for MPAs to understand their legal foundations better. They explored the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as a holistic method for managing MPAs and were introduced to biodiversity assessment tools such as underwater photogrammetry. The workshop also emphasized “citizen science,” where local communities share valuable scientific information in biodiversity conservation.

Participants examined various funding strategies for MPA management, including establishing livelihoods in and around MPAs and other financing activities such as local government funding and impact loans. To conclude the program, Peace Corps volunteers collaborated with their local government partners to draft workplans for effective MPA management.

“The main thing is bringing this out of the training room and into the communities, to the spaces where all our participants could share their stories, share their strengths, and ultimately work on our main goal as Peace Corps which is partnering together and walking alongside communities as they identify, magnify, connect, and mobilize their strengths for positive change,” said Matthew Tully, Peace Corps Philippines Director for Programming and Training.

For a practical approach, participants visited marine and mangrove conservation areas to enhance their knowledge and appreciation of habitats and communities working within MPAs. The province of Oriental Mindoro and the municipality of Puerto Galera also shared best practices from years of experience in establishing and managing MPAs.

“I am amazed at how the environment is preserved in Oriental Mindoro. I also learned that the local government has the capacity to include environmental education in their local school curriculum, and I will pursue this back in my municipality,” said Ricky Dela Cruz, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council Municipal Representative of Carles, Iloilo.

Peace Corps volunteers assigned to the Coastal Resource Management sector work with local governments to implement integrated coastal resource management plans and assist coastal communities. Since 1961, over 9,300 Peace Corps Volunteers have worked alongside Filipinos.

These efforts underscore the importance of international collaboration and local engagement in protecting the Philippines’ rich marine biodiversity, ensuring sustainable environmental practices for future generations.

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