Volume 68

Challenges to Implementing Regional Marine Spatial Management:The Case of the Seaflower MPA, San Andres Archipelago

Howard, M. and E. Taylor.
Download PDF Open PDF in Browser

Other Information

Date: November, 2015

Pages: 6 - 14

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty eigth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Panama City

Country: Panama


Declared in 2005, the Seaflower MPA was designed prior to evolving broad-based definitions and guidelines for marine spatial planning (MSP). Nonetheless, the process to design Seaflower used many good MSP practices. Planning was led by the regional autonomous environmental authority, CORALINA, and was community-driven and highly participatory. Starting from its mission and multiple-use zoning, defined in agreement with stakeholders, Seaflower focused on sustainable development; combining best available science with indigenous knowledge and integrating ecological, social, and economic objectives with values of adaptive community- and ecosystem-based management, cross-sectoral partnerships, and environmental, social, and intergenerational justice. In spite of its promise and internationally acclaimed planning process, Seaflower has struggled with challenges and threats to its effectiveness as an ambitious experiment in marine planning and the Caribbean’s largest MPA (65,000 km2). On-going management issues stem from chronic lack of funding; a legacy of centralized governance and unstable, inconsistent local and national political regimes; marginalization of the archipelago’s indigenous (Raizal) people and their lack of political and economic power and voice; weak enforcement; and the natural resources, biodiversity, and strategic location that attract large-scale fisheries, extractive industries, and other interests. Conflicting demands on the territory peaked in the case of Nicaragua v. Colombia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which resulted in an ICJ ruling that awarded over half the MPA to Nicaragua. The Seaflower experience offers many lessons, along with an exceptional opportunity to examine how MSP could help address cross-border challenges and externalities for Seaflower specifically and sustainable regional ocean management generally

PDF Preview