From 22 April to 6 May 2019, the National Coast Watch Council, through its Secretariat coordinated the joint scientific expedition of the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), UP-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) and DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Kalayaan Island Group called PROTECT-WPS.

PROTECT-WPS stands for Predicting Responses between Ocean Transport and Ecological Connectivity of Threatened ecosystems in the West Philippines Sea. It is a project funded by the DENR-BMB with the aim of conducting research expedition in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.

The research expedition conducted biological and oceanographic research activities and surveys in some reefs and islands in the KIG-WPS to generate baseline data and understand changes happening in threatened marine ecosystems. The conduct of the expedition is under the Coordinated National MSR Initiatives and Related Activities (CONMIRA) in Philippine Waters 2019, which is facilitated by the NCWC Secretariat and overseen by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS)

Prior to the expedition, UP-MSI hosted a send-off ceremony on 22 April 2019 for its very first research platform- the RV Kasarinlan at the Cunanan Wharf of the Philippine Coast Guard at the South Harbor, Manila.