Manila, September 30, 2021 – From September 21 to 29, the U.S. Peace Corps held a virtual forum on marine protected area management for 25 local government unit (LGU) partners in Luzon and Visayas. The webinar was timed to coincide with World Maritime Month and International Clean-Up Month, highlighting the importance of protecting our maritime environment and cleaning up coastal trash so that the Philippines remains one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.
“This virtual program aims to increase awareness around how to establish different types of marine protected areas and monitor biodiversity. It also provides an opportunity for LGUs to share best practices with one another around sustainable livelihoods other than fishing, such as diving tourism,” said U.S. Peace Corps Country Director Jenner Edelman during her remarks.
“You cannot manage what you cannot count,” added De La Salle University SHORE Center Director Dr. Wilfredo Licuanan when introducing simple, low-cost citizen science monitoring tools that LGUs can use to monitor fish, coral, and other invertebrates in Philippine marine protected areas.
Senior Fisheries Advisor Andre Uychiaoco of USAID’s Php1.3-billion Fish Right Program noted the importance of “cooperation and consensus between the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, LGUs, and fisherfolk in managing Fishery Management Areas, in addition to establishing marine protected areas to promote sustainable fishing in the Philippines.”
Several American Peace Corps volunteers who were evacuated from coastal communities across the Philippines in 2020 due to COVID-19 joined to share their experiences in establishing marine protected areas with their LGU counterparts.
This forum is the first in what will be a series of virtual and blended technical assistance and knowledge-exchange opportunities between the U.S. Peace Corps and LGU partners across the Philippines during the ongoing pandemic.
The Peace Corps is the U.S. government’s premier volunteer service organization and was founded by former U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Since then, more than 240,000 Americans have served in over 140 countries globally.
Over 9,300 Peace Corps volunteers have served across the Philippines alone since then, including approximately 300 Coastal Resource Management volunteers. The U.S. Peace Corps and its partners look forward to welcoming American volunteers to the Philippines as soon as it is safe and, in the interim, will continue working together to support Filipino communities in protecting the country’s marine biodiversity and recovering from the pandemic.