Marine Protected Areas

'Mega-MPA' announced for Pacific

Written by Oceanographic Staff

The countries of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica have announced at the COP26 summit that they will join their marine reserves to create one vast MPA in the Pacific.

The announcement to link the protected waters of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica comes after the Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso announced a new marine reserve in the Galapagos during the COP26 summit, expanding the already protected area around the Galapagos islands by approximately 60,000 km2.

The ‘Mega-MPA’ will link and expand already existing marine reserves from the four Pacific-facing countries to create one interconnected MPA to protect migratory turtles, sharks and whales from fishing activities.

The new Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) is said to create a fishing-free corridor that covers over 500,000 sq km. The initiators hope that it protects fish populations and marine species that are facing extinction by limiting industrial, international fishing, as well as illegal and unregulated fishing activities in the region.

After Ecuador announced the expansion of its currently at 133,000 sq km Galapagos marine reserve by 60,000 sq km, Colombia followed suit and announced at the COP26 summit that it would expand its existing 120,000 sq km large marine protected area by 160,000 sq km.

In total, the proposed Mega-MPA will cover over 200,000 square miles in an effort to create a safe swimway between Ecuadorian and Costa Rican waters for migratory species.

Ecuador’s environment minister, Gustavo Manrique, said: “This is the new language of global conservation. Never have countries with connecting maritime borders joined together to create a public policy.”

As marine protected areas are notoriously hard to monitor and police, it will be seen how effective the area will be protected in the future. The proposal is, however, a positive step towards a more international outlook on marine conservation efforts.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

Photography courtesy of Unsplash.

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