Coralina, a Colombian government agency that established the Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA) with local community involvement, is being heralded today by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan. Proving that conservation and sustainable economic opportunities can go hand-in-hand, Coralina was instrumental in creating a marine park that protects nearly 200 endangered species while providing sustainable jobs for local people in the Western Caribbean Colombian department of Archipelago of San Andrés, Old Providence and Santa Catalina. Coralina was one of over 1,000 agencies and organizations that are apart of the Countdown 2010 program, which highlights effective action to save species at the CBD.
“It is an honour for us to receive this award today,” said Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Coralina’s General Director. “We are very grateful to Countdown 2010 for helping promote our efforts. Coralina will continue its action after 2010 to protect and enrich the biodiversity of the archipelago.”
Spreading over 65,000 square kilometers (6,500,000 hectares), Seaflower MPA is home to over a hundred coral species, over 400 fish, and some 150 birds, but is renowned for the magnificent mollusk, the queen conch (Strombus gigas), which has been decimated by overfishing and poaching both for food and sale of shells. Currently the queen conch is being raised in pens in Seaflower MPA and then released into the wild.
Parts of the Seaflower MPA are open to some fishing, allowing local fishermen to make a sustainable living. But Coralina is also working on developing other sustainable livelihoods.
“The intention is to open an umbrella of possibilities of livelihoods, including low-impact aquaculture, and some alternatives on land such as iguana farming which is done by the fishers in some places, and also creating interpretation trails (for tourism),” Taylor Jay told the BBC.
Seaflower MPA has been nominated as a World Heritage Site.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has brought representatives from every nation but three to Nagoya, Japan to discuss ways to save species worldwide. Having failed in its goal of stemming biodiversity loss by this year, the CBD faces a growing environmental crisis.
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