Covering nearly 2 million square kilometers (770,000 square miles), the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape comprises the waters, coasts and islands off the shores of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.
It’s a special place — one where you’ll find bigger populations of many species than you would anywhere else on Earth. It attracts thousands of visitors every year. It’s one of the most productive fisheries in the world.
And it’s too important for humanity to lose.
Why is the Eastern Tropical Pacific important?
Jobs and Prosperity
Within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, more than 5 million people live within 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the coast. Whether they work in the commercial fisheries, are involved with the thriving tourism trade, have a job in shipping or simply benefit from all of this economic activity, few people who live near the eastern Pacific are untouched by its bounty.
Protection from Storms
The vast mangroves, or coastal forests, in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape help keep people safe — protecting coastlines from soil erosion, buffering communities from hurricanes and serving as nurseries for valuable commercial species. And scientists are increasingly coming to understand their value in capturing and storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change.
Food We Eat
Coastal communities within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape are highly dependent on fishing to get protein in their diets. In addition, the waters in this region are some of the most productive tuna grounds on the planet. To sustain important fish species and keep families fed, everyone — from local communities to regional governments — must adopt sustainable practices.
Joy and Inspiration
The deep blue waters, rich coastal habitats and unique wildlife (including one-third of the world’s whale species) of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape have inspired millions. Each of the four countries within the region boasts a marine UNESCO World Heritage Site — including the Galapagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador, the site of a well-known visit from Charles Darwin in 1835.
What are the issues?
The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape covers an area nearly three times the size of Texas.
It’s an enormous challenge to monitor what’s going on in an area that big — and to protect it from threats like illegal fishing, overfishing and pollution. But Conservation International is facing this challenge head-on. Since we began work in the region in 2004, we’ve supported the creation or expansion of more than 20 marine protected areas (MPAs). And we’re working around the region to restore the critical coastal areas, end destructive fishing practices such as overfishing and trawling and coordinate cooperation among the governments of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador to create a more sustainable Pacific Ocean.
© Conservation International/photo by Ana Gloria Guzmán
© Kseniya Ragozina
© Jeff Litton/Marine Photobank