Siete Pecados Marine Park in the town of Coron has scored a big win as one of three marine protected areas in the world to be awarded the prestigious Blue Park Award at the 9th Our Ocean Conference held yesterday in Athens, Greece, in recognition of its remarkable efforts in conserving marine biodiversity.

Blue Parks by the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) brings together premier marine protected areas (MPA) and the dedicated individuals advocating for them, forming a strategic network aimed at preserving ocean life. The inclusion of Siete Pecados Marine Park in the expanding network of acclaimed Blue Parks worldwide is attributed to its commitment to the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness.

Jose Mazo, manager of the Siete Pecados Marine Park, stated in a release by the MCI, that the “Blue Park Award is an honor to receive.”

“We want Siete Pecados Marine Park to meet or exceed the science-based Blue Park standards so we can conserve critical habitat, promote ocean health and ensure economic security for our children and generations to come,” he stated.

In a separate statement, the management of the marine park in northern Palawan, said Blue Parks “is a testament to the Siete Pecado’s unwavering commitment to protecting its vibrant ecosystems, which include flourishing coral reefs, extensive seagrass beds, and dense mangrove forests.”

The management also emphasized “that it serves as both a recognition of their past efforts and an inspiration for their future endeavors.”

Siete Pecados Marine Park is made up of seven small rocky islands situated just a short distance from the coast of Coron town. Established in 2005 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and various partners in collaboration with the local community, the MPA has evolved from a center of illegal fishing activities into a flourishing ecotourism hub.

The Philippines is now home to three Blue Parks: the Tubbataha Natural Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in Cagayancillo, Palawan, which received the award in 2017, and the Apo Reef Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro, which was honored in 2022.

The other two awarded MPAs are Tristan da Cunha of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena and Gitdisdzu Lugyeks managed by the Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority.

The gathering showcased the Blue Park Award recipients as exemplary models of biodiversity preservation in MPAs, emphasizing their important role in achieving the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s objective of safeguarding 30% of marine and coastal regions by 2030, often referred to as the “30×30” target.

A panel of global marine conservation specialists, convened by the U.S. non-profit organization MCI, chose the recipients of the Blue Park Award, employing criteria rooted in the scientific assessment of marine protected area efficacy.

Dr. Lance Morgan, president of MCI, alongside Minna Epps, Director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Ocean Program, and Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, representative of the Science Council, announced the designation of three new Blue Parks.

“Congratulations to the 2024 Blue Parks,” Dr. Morgan said.

“As the global conservation community works toward 30×30, it is critical that we create more MPAs but also ensure they offer effective protection to marine ecosystems and benefit local communities,” he added.

The Blue Park Awards, funded by Blue and the Blue Endowment Fund, reward this year’s recipients with financial grants—$8,000 for gold level and $6,000 for silver level parks—along with an etched glass trophy to honor their accomplishments.