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U.S. Peace Corps trains volunteers, PH partners on management of Marine Protected Areas

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

MPAs are established to conserve and protect diminishing coastal resources.  To address this challenge, the workshop gathered 60 participants, including 20 Peace Corps volunteers, 20 local government representatives from Luzon and Visayas, and 20 fisherfolk leaders, to build their capacity in environmental conservation and protection.  

During the workshop, national and local frameworks for MPAs were discussed to enhance the participants’ understanding of the legal foundations of MPAs.  Participants explored the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as a holistic method for managing MPAs.  They were also introduced to biodiversity assessment tools such as underwater photogrammetry.  The workshop also highlighted “citizen science,” where local communities share valuable, scientific information in biodiversity conservation.  Participants explored various funding strategies for MPA management, including the establishment of livelihoods in and around MPAs, and other financing activities such as local government funding and impact loans.  To cap the program, the 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,” Peace Corps Philippines Director for Programming and Training Matthew Tully said. 

For a more practical approach, participants visited marine and mangrove conservation areas, enhancing their knowledge and appreciation of habitats and communities working within MPAs. The province of Oriental Mindoro and 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. Over 9,300 Peace Corps Volunteers have worked alongside Filipinos since 1961.|

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