Located off the coast of Occidental Mindoro and in the Coral Triangle, Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) protects three small islands and the surrounding 34 km2 coral atoll, the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. ARNP is the second largest no-take zone in the Philippines, after Tubbataha Reef Natural Park (Blue Park 2017), and is an important part of the national Philippine network of MPAs. It serves as a sanctuary for overfished species, and the islands are important nesting grounds for several species of endangered sea turtles.
ARNP is home to emblematic species, such as reef sharks, mobula rays, whales, dolphins, and dugongs. It also provides refuge for several endangered or critically endangered species, including the thresher shark, great hammerhead shark, whale shark, reef manta ray and Napoleon wrasse.
The islands of ARNP are only inhabited by rotating ARNP and enforcement personnel. However, the coastal districts of Sablayan, located 33 km away, are key local communities to the park. Fishing is a way of life in these communities, as it is one of the main sources of income. ARNP partners with locals and supports them in transitioning away from fisheries to sustainable livelihoods, such as boat tours and dive tourism. Due to its extremely diverse and rich ecosystems, ARNP has become a popular diving destination. The park benefits from sustainable revenue from user fees while maintaining strict regulations to ensure tourism is ecologically-friendly.
Apo Reef Natural Park
- Award Year
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Protected Area Management Office (PAMO), Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), Local Government Unit of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
- 275 km²
- Other Awards and Designations