The Marine Environment Resources Foundation (MERF) was one of the awardees for the Best Extension Program Award (Natatanging Programang Pang-extensiyon) in the Gawad Tsanselor Linggo ng Parangal last 23 June 2023 at the University Theater, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. Since 2019, MERF, in partnership with the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), has been organizing training and capacity-building activities for members of the PCG and its Maritime Environment Protection Command (MEPCOM).
In November 2019, it organized a six-day short course on Marine Science and Marine Environmental Resources Underwater Assessment with Open Water Diving at the UP-Marine Science Institute and in Bauan, Batangas. The objectives were for the participants to acquire the knowledge and understanding of themarine environment and to develop the necessary skills and attitude to properly govern and sustainably exploit the maritime domain, including territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones.
From 2020 until 2022, the UP MSI and MERF continued to conduct a lecture series on the connectivity among ecosystems and courses on open water diving. During the period of the pandemic, a series of online short courses on water quality monitoring, data collection and analysis of marine resources, valuation processes for corals were conducted. Hands-on training in the field for underwater assessment of the marine environment and resources and microplastic/ plastic count monitoring were held.
At present, MERF and UP MSI continue to design and implement similar activities that will aid the PCG in performing their mandates, which include performing maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, maritime safety, marine environmental protection, and maritime security.
The award was received by Dr. Deo Onda, the Project Leader; Dr Laura David, UP-MSI Director; and Ms. Miraflor P. Sachez, the Program Coordinator.