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2024 Blue Park Award Winners Announced at 9th Our Ocean Conference

New Marine Protected Areas Recognized for Outstanding Conservation

video courtesy of: Moonfish Media for Kitasoo Xai'xais Stewardship Authority, USAID Fish Right, Siete Pecados Marine Park, National Geographic Society (Pristine Seas)

[Athens, Greece, 17 April 2024]

Three marine protected areas (MPAs) won prestigious Blue Park Awards today at the 9th Our Ocean Conference. Tristan da Cunha (UK), Gitdisdzu Lugyeks Marine Protected Area (Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation), and Siete Pecados Marine Park (Philippines) earned the awards in recognition of exceptional marine biodiversity conservation; they join a growing network of 30 awarded Blue Parks around the global ocean that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness.

“Receiving this Blue Park Award not only recognizes what we’ve been doing as a Stewardship Authority, but it also sets the stage for other Indigenous Nations to use this as a blueprint for their own protected areas in their territories,” said Kitasoo Xai’xais elected Chief, Doug Neasloss. “The management plan for Gitdisdzu Lugyeks combines our traditional knowledge and responsibilities with western science in a way that protects ecosystems and human livelihoods, and we’re grateful that this award recognizes the strength in that combination.”

The three new Blue Parks cover a total area of 757,403 square kilometers (292,435 sq. mi). Their addition brings the Blue Park Network to a total of 3.5 million square kilometers (1,351,358 sq. mi) of ocean area effectively protected in the waters of 23 countries.

“On behalf of all the community, we are delighted to receive this Blue Park Award in recognition of Tristan da Cunha’s Marine Protection Zone,” said Janine Lavarello, Tristan da Cunha's Marine Protection Zone Officer. “We are committed to maintaining these high standards to ensure Tristan’s waters are protected now, and for future generations.”

An international council of marine conservation experts, assembled by U.S. NGO Marine Conservation Institute, selected the Blue Park Award winners using criteria based on the science of MPA effectiveness.

“This Blue Park Award is an honor to receive,” said Jose Mazo, Manager of Siete Pecados Marine Park. “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.”

Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, announced the three new Blue Parks alongside the Director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Ocean Program, Minna Epps, and Science Council representative, Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, at an event co-hosted by Marine Conservation Institute and the Bloomberg Ocean Fund.

The event highlighted contributions toward the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s target to protect 30% of marine and coastal areas by 2030 (‘30×30’), showcasing the Blue Park Award winners as outstanding examples of effective biodiversity conservation in MPAs.

“Congratulations to the 2024 Blue Parks,” Dr. Lance 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.”

The Blue Park Awards are supported by Blue, the Blue Endowment Fund. Each of this year’s Blue Parks receives US $8,000 (gold level) or US $6,000 (silver level), and an etched glass trophy to recognize their achievement. The 2024 Blue Parks join the Blue Parks Network, comprised of some of the world’s most outstanding marine protected areas and ocean champions.

“We are thrilled to recognize the hard work of the governments, indigenous leaders, local communities, managers, and their NGO partners working in these three new Blue Parks,” said Director of the Blue Parks Program, Dr. Sarah Hameed. “The Blue Parks offer examples of conservation success that inspire us all to accelerate efforts to safeguard life in the sea.”

photo: National Geographic Society (Pristine Seas)

Presented annually since its launch in 2017, Blue Parks now cover over 3.5 million square kilometers of ocean, spanning 23 countries. Marine Conservation Institute’s rigorous science-based criteria and an international panel of esteemed marine scientists are key to vetting and ensuring that these MPAs provide examples of the most effective marine life conservation.

The Blue Parks initiative highlights that the quality of protection, not quantity alone, is critical for the 30 30 target to achieve biodiversity conservation and restore ocean health.

About Blue Parks

Blue Park Awards were established by Marine Conservation Institute to encourage high quality marine protected areas (MPAs) that safeguard marine wildlife, secure critical habitats, promote resilience, and ensure the inspiring beauty of our oceans for future generations. The effort aims to assemble an effective network that sustains marine life and ecosystems globally. As of today, 30 marine protected areas have earned Blue Park Awards.

In addition to awarding new Blue Parks, Marine Conservation Institute has launched collaborations — Blue Sparks — with groups planning new marine protected areas and upgrading existing marine protected areas in the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mozambique, the Philippines and Palau to ensure their efforts result in future Blue Parks.

About Marine Conservation Institute

MCI_LOGO

Marine Conservation Institute, founded in 1996, works in the U.S. and globally to seek strong protection for at least 30% of the ocean by 2030—for us and future generations. Our focus on protecting the ocean’s most important places follows several lines of work: identifying and advocating for strong marine protected areas; improving laws and other tools to better conserve marine biodiversity; catalyzing effective conservation by recognizing and elevating the best marine protected areas as Blue Parks; and accurately reporting on global conservation efforts with our Marine Protection Atlas (MPAtlas.org).

About Blue Endowment Fund

Blue Endowment Fund

Blue is a non-profit endowment fund that aims to build a better future through project grants, equity investments and initiative incubation. Blue provides financial grants for effective, efficient, and sustainable projects to strengthen resilient marine ecosystems, and sponsors the Blue Park Awards.

Contacts

Dr. Sarah Hameed, Blue Parks Director & Senior Scientist
Marine Conservation Institute, USA
Sarah.Hameed@marine-conservation.org
+1 707 242 1997 cell/ WhatsApp

Dr. Lance Morgan, President
Marine Conservation Institute, USA
Lance.Morgan@marine-conservation.org
+1 707 217 8242 cell/ WhatsApp

Martin Fowlie, Media Manager
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK
martin.fowlie@rspb.org.uk

David Kinchin-Smith, UK Overseas Territories Project Officer
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK
david.kinchinsmith@rspb.org.uk

Janine Lavarello, Marine Protection Zone Officer
Marine Management Organisation, Tristan da Cunha
mpzofficertdc22@gmail.com

Jose Mazo, Marine Park Manager
Siete Pecados Marine Park, The Philippines
josemazo.7picados@gmail.com
+63 947 448 5591

Cliff Richard Astor
Co-Chairperson of the Siete Pecados Marine Park Management Committee & Barangay Captain
Barangay Tagumpay, Coron, The Philippines
cliffrichardastor@gmail.com

Deirdre Leowinata, Outreach Coordinator
Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority
communications@kxsa.ca