UP MSI awarded 2024 Gawad Tsanselor for NARFleet

UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) was honored with the 2024 Gawad Tsanselor sa Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensiyon for the establishment of the National Academic Research Fleet (NARFleet). Director Dr. Laura David received the award together with Dr. Fernando Siringan, Dr. Cesar Villanoy, Captain Reyan Maalihan, and staff of the NARFleet Coordination and Management Office in “Lagô: Linggo ng Parangal”, held at the Institute of Biology Auditorium last June 21.

NARFleet, the first group of vessels dedicated to marine scientific research in the Philippines, is recognized for “pagpapalawak ng kaalaman, pagsusulong ng kamalayan, at pagpapatibay ng pagpahalaga sa teritoryo ng bansa.”

UP MSI established NARFleet for Filipino marine scientists to lead expeditions and help develop science-based management of our marine resources. Under the leadership of NARFleet’s Technical Working Group — Dr. Laura David, Dr. Fernando Siringan, Dr. Cesar Villanoy, Dr. Deo Florence Onda, and Dr. Charina Lyn Amedo-Repollo — UP MSI and its partners have boarded NARFleet vessels to conduct ocean research in several parts of the Philippines.

Since the acquisition of MV Panata in 2019, multiple expeditions have been organized to study the waters of the West Philippine Sea (Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Palawan), Philippine Rise, Verde Island Passage, Bohol Sea, San Bernardino Strait, Visayan Sea, Tubbataha Reef, Mindoro, Boracay, and Manila Bay, including yearly voyages to the Kalayaan Island Group. MV Panata has already been used by UP MSI for 30 expeditions, spending 319 days at sea.

These expeditions have contributed greatly to UP MSI’s research in oceanography, marine biology, and marine biotechnology. With collaborations between national government agencies, higher education institutions, and the private sector, NARFleet allows scientists to better address issues relevant to Philippine society: food security, mapping the deep sea, discovery of bioresources, exploring remote areas, and improving ocean monitoring and prediction systems.

Now with an additional five vessels, UP MSI hopes to further improve the country’s capacity for ocean research by co-managing NARFleet with UP Visayas, Bicol University, and Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology. Researchers from state universities and government agencies have also been invited to join UP MSI’s expeditions to train more Filipinos across the country for marine science research. 

This is the second year in a row that UP MSI has been awarded with UP Diliman’s most prestigious distinction for extension programs. In 2023, UP MSI was awarded the Gawad Tsanselor sa Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensiyon for capacity building of the Philippine Coast Guard.