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Shark Fin Bay MPA Network Named a Blue Spark in Growing Network of Highest Quality Marine Protected Areas

Shark Fin Bay MPA Network named a Blue Spark

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[Palawan, Philippines, 5 October 2023] – Today, Marine Conservation Institute and the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation announced that Shark Fin Bay MPA Network is now a Blue Spark marine protected area collaboration. The Blue Spark designation for this network of four MPAs indicates that the protected area is making progress towards earning a prestigious Blue Park Award for conservation excellence and honors the leadership and commitment of local management teams, the Shark Fin Bay MPA Network Management Council, and Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation.

Shark Fin Bay MPA Network, located in northern Palawan, Philippines, is made up of four MPAs that collectively cover 7.6 km2 within a semi-enclosed bay. The network protects tropical reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests that support a high diversity of species. The area provides habitat for an array of threatened and endangered species, including blacktip reef sharks, hawksbill and green turtles, and several endangered tropical fish, including napoleon wrasse. The local communities of Shark Fin Bay are committed to revitalizing the coastal and marine ecosystems upon which they rely for food and their livelihoods with these MPAs.

Marine protected areas cannot be sustainable without the commitment of the local communities for the management,” said Frédéric Tardieu, Founder of Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation.

The first MPA in the network, Pangatalan Island MPA, was established in 2017 after a year of extensive consultation between the Sulubaaï Foundation and the local community (barangay) of Depla. Previously impacted by destructive activities, the wildlife in Pangatalan Island MPA quickly began recovering thanks to the protection and restoration actions taken by Sulubaaï Foundation and Depla community leaders. Fish populations in the MPA showed notable increases in density, biomass, and size. Inspired by this early success, the Sulubaaï Foundation facilitated a collaborative process with Depla; two neighboring villages, Sandoval and Silanga; and the Municipality of Taytay to create three more MPAs and consolidate them into a network. The MPA network has empowered the local communities to conserve local marine ecosystems. Local government officials, fisherfolk, and other community members serve on the network’s management council. The management team is currently finalizing the network’s budget and operational plan to ensure its resiliency.

“We are excited to welcome Shark Fin Bay MPA Network as the newest Blue Spark collaboration and partner with the Sulubaaï Foundation to protect this exceptional ecosystem that holds great value to local communities,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute. “We are committed to accelerating the protection of the most important places in our oceans, and the work of the Sulubaaï Foundation and the barangays in the municipality of Taytay are vital to safeguarding marine life.”

Marine Conservation Institute collaborates with Blue Spark partners to improve their management and implement MPAs, using the Blue Park Award criteria as the blueprint for a better protected ocean. Blue Park Awards are given annually to marine protected areas that meet the highest science-based standards for marine biodiversity conservation.

“Shark Fin Bay MPA Network protects an outstanding diversity of ocean wildlife,” said Dr. Sarah Hameed, Senior Scientist and Director of the Blue Parks Program. “Together with the rest of the Blue Parks network, this network will help safeguard life on this blue planet.”

Marine Conservation Institute’s announcement of Shark Fin Bay MPA Network as a Blue Spark brings the total number of protected areas in the Blue Parks network to 38 – 27 awarded Blue Parks and 11 Blue Sparks that are working toward the Blue Park standard. Shark Fin Bay MPA Network and the other Blue Sparks represent tomorrow’s Blue Parks and an important step towards achieving the Global Biodiversity Framework 30x30 target.


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. Currently, there are 27 marine protected areas that 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., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mozambique to ensure their efforts result in future Blue Parks.

About Marine Conservation Institute

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 (


Frédéric Tardieu, Chairman
Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation
+63 999 198 4125

Dr. Sarah Hameed, Senior Scientist & Blue Parks Director
Marine Conservation Institute, USA
+1 707 242 1997 cell

Dr. Lance Morgan, President
Marine Conservation Institute, USA
+1 707 217 8242 cell

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