Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization solely focused on ocean conservation, has been working on science-based policies in countries responsible for 25% of the world’s wild fish catch. To date, it has won 300 policy victories combating plastic pollution, habitat destruction, the killing of threatened species and illegal fishing. Oceana’s efforts are directed towards restoring ocean health, enabling 1 billion people to sustainably enjoy healthy seafood meals daily. In the Philippines, over the years since 2014, Oceana has engaged in several campaigns such as anti-dump and fill (reclamation), sardine protection and fisheries management areas establishment, restoration of mangrove forests, fighting illegal commercial fishing, strengthening corals through declaration of marine protected areas, and the ban on single-use plastics.

Even pristine marine protected areas like Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) are not immune to the far-reaching impacts of plastic pollution. To provide an additional layer of protection to ARNP against these negative impacts, a significant collaborative effort, with Oceana providing legal and technical assistance, led to the creation and implementation of Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Ordinance No. AR23-001, “An Ordinance Declaring the Phase-out of Single-Use Plastics.”

The ordinance calls for the prohibition of lightweight plastic singlet bags (plastic labo), and sando bags, along with disposable cutlery, straws, stirrers, cups, bowls, and the like. It also provides penalties for violations to reinforce the strict protection for this vital environment. To effectively implement this ordinance and encourage responsible behavior, visitors will be informed through educational materials and signages. Visitors to the park are to use alternative eco-friendly options for packaging and utensils instead, as part of this measure.