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EditPhoto Title:Supporting Marine Protected Areas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape
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EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_71060150.jpg
EditImage Description:Sunset at Isabella Island in the Galápagos.
EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Ana Gloria Guzmán
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Marine protected areas secure important environments, but they require efficient management to ensure effective conservation for the species who live there and the people who depend on them.

The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape covers nearly 2 million square kilometers (about 750,000 square miles) of some of the world’s most productive waters, featuring offshore and inshore islands and a varied coastline containing a range of habitats, many unique to the seascape. Several migratory and pelagic species, including whales, turtles and sharks, are still found in great numbers despite their depletion across much of their natural range as a result of bycatch from non-selective fishing practices and targeted illegal fishing.

A growing number of marine protected areas (MPAs) have been created to protect these threatened species and important habitats. However, many MPAs are inefficiently and unsustainably managed and surrounded by unmanaged waters, making them less effective and hurting communities that depend directly on marine resources and have few economic alternatives. Combined with growing coastal populations and increased tourism pressure, these factors place the seascape’s marine environment at risk and require a comprehensive, regional-scale strategy.

Our role

Conservation International​ is advising and supporting the governments and other national authorities of Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama to ensure that MPAs are effectively researched, designed, implemented, funded and managed. We complement our support with initiatives aimed at securing improved livelihoods, reducing the negative environmental impacts of businesses and local communities, and fostering sustainable economic development in and around MPA networks. CI has played a crucial role in channeling financial resources toward strengthening MPAs within the seascape. For example, the Walton Family Foundation has provided continuous financial support since 2005, a demonstration of the foundation’s long-term commitment to the conservation of the seascape’s marine resources.

Our plan

A consolidated MPA is one that has implemented management structures strong and resilient enough to cope with most challenges and that has secured long-term financing from diverse sources to cover most recurring costs and to conduct integral conservation projects. It must also demonstrate a clear trend toward healthy habitat conditions and populations of important species, including those subjected to fishing pressures, as well as improved socioeconomic conditions that benefit the seascape’s inhabitants. CI aims to support the consolidation of a set of key MPAs within the seascape. To date, four sites that CI has supported fall into this category, and over the next three years, we will support the consolidation of an additional 12 MPAs and bring another two close to consolidated status.

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EditImage Alt Text:Coast of Costa Rica
EditTitle:By the numbers
EditSubtitle:$13 million granted
EditText:Since 2004, CI has provided US$ 13 million in funding to 100 partners, mostly local organizations and nonprofits, to develop local capacity and ensure the seascape’s MPAs are sustainably managed in the long term.
EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Keith Lawrence
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    First Image

    EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada

    Second Image

    EditTitle:Science and Innovation
    EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap. © Benjamin Drummond

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    EditTitle:The Ocean
    EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse