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Three Blue Park Award Winners Announced at UN Ocean Conference

New Marine Protected Areas Recognized for Outstanding Conservation

Friday 1 July 2022

[Lisbon, Portugal, 1 July 2022]—Three marine protected areas (MPAs) won prestigious Blue Park Awards for exceptional marine wildlife conservation at the United Nations Ocean Conference today. Apo Reef Natural Park (The Philippines), Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area (Indonesia), and Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Park (Colombia) join a growing network of 24 awarded Blue Parks around the global ocean that have met the highest science-based standards for conservation effectiveness. The three new Blue Parks have a total area of 13,834 sq. km (5,342 sq. mi.). Their addition brings the Blue Park systems to a total of 1,834,171 sq. km (708,177 sq. mi) of ocean effectively protected in the waters of 20 countries.

An international council of marine conservation experts, assembled by U.S. NGO Marine Conservation Institute, made the Blue Park Award decisions using criteria based on the science of MPA effectiveness. President of the organization, Dr. Lance Morgan, presented the awards to government officials representing the three new Blue Parks alongside representatives from the council and former Blue Park Award recipients.

“Congratulations to this year’s Blue Parks,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute. “These MPAs are safeguarding marine life and helping to revitalize our ocean. We hope the 2022 Blue Parks will inspire more communities and governments to commit to strong and effective protections for critical ocean ecosystems.”

The three new Blue Parks join a global network of outstanding protected areas in the ocean. “This Blue Park Award is a testament to the more than two decades of hard work of different sectors for the conservation and protection of Apo Reef Natural Park,” said Krystal Villanada, Director of Apo Reef Natural Park. “It such a great honor to be recognized by an esteemed organization for the effective management of the marine protected area. As Apo Reef Natural Park is now being acknowledged globally, we are looking forward to expanding our networks and collaborations with different organizations to ensure a sustainable ocean for the future generation.”

By celebrating outstanding efforts by governments, nonprofit organizations, MPA managers, and local communities, the Blue Park Awards honor and inspire the many people who contribute to an effective MPA. “For our team, the award challenges us to strengthen the management of the National Park,” said Marcela Cano Correa, Director of Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Natural Park in Colombia, “for the benefit of the local indigenous communities and the world.”

The Blue Park Award recognizes outstanding efforts by national governments, nonprofit organizations, MPA managers, and local communities to effectively protect marine ecosystems now and for the future. The award has been given annually since its launch in 2017. To date, Blue Parks cover nearly 2 million square kilometers of ocean, spanning 20 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.

“We are proud to be a part of Blue Parks, to build a strong global network of well-managed marine areas,” said Syafri, S.Pi, Head of the Raja Ampat MPA Management Authority. “In Raja Ampat, we want to continue to strengthen management to promote ocean health and ensure food and natural resource sustainability for our children and generations to come.”

“The Blue Park Award supports tangible progress towards international ocean conservation targets,” said Dr. Sarah Hameed, Director of the Blue Parks Program. “While international agreements are driving an acceleration in MPA designations, some of these designations do not have adequate protections to really make a difference. That’s why we need Blue Parks to ensure that designated MPAs become places that truly safeguard biodiversity.” The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14.5 set a target of protecting 10% of the ocean by 2020 and many countries are calling for a post-2020 target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

The event was endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade activity.


Dr. Sarah Hameed, Senior Scientist & Blue Parks Director Marine Conservation Institute, USA

Marine Conservation Institute, USA

+1 707 570 7843 cell

Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, USA

Marine Conservation Institute, USA

+1 707 217 8242 cell

Krystal Villanada, Director

Apo Reef Natural Park, The Philippines

Siti N. Sangadji (Nana)

Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area, Indonesia

Susie Vulpas, Indonesia Program Development Advisor

Yayasan Konservasi Indonesia

Sandra Pureza Gómez, Communications Coordinator

Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia

+57 315 340 8459 cell

Press Kit (map, images, logos, background):


About Blue Parks 

Blue Park Awards were established by the 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, there are 24 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., 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 (


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