New Marine Management Area: Barra del Colorado, establishes innovative conservation model

  • It is the first experience of jointly managing a Marine Management Area (MMA) and a Responsible Marine Fishing Area (RMFA), through a General Shared Management Plan.
  • The new protected area will have a plan for the use of inland and fisheries resources in the area, thanks to the support of the FCRA.

San José. The creation of the new Barra del Colorado Marine Management Area (MMA), in the Costa Rican North Caribbean, will ensure the conservation of the marine resources of that region, while generating new economic opportunities for the surrounding communities.

Driven by the drop in the fishing stocks and the effects of climate change, the residents of Barra del Colorado decided to take action to ensure their well-being and that of the region’s ecosystems, with the support of officials from the Tortuguero Conservation Area (ACTo) of the National Conservation Areas System (SINAC) and the National Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA).

The new Marine Management Area will allow the conservation of cetaceans, rays, sharks and sea turtles, but will also facilitate the recovery of populations of fishing interest such as bowfin, shrimp, lobster and atlantic tarpon, which are important for the surrounding communities that depend on them for food and commerce.

The need of every producer is to be able to continue working overtime, in a sustainable way and, to achieve this, it was necessary to take action through the creation of the Marine Management Area,” said Jesús Chaves, president of the Barra del Colorado Artisanal Fishers Association.

Jesús Chaves, president of the Barra del Colorado Artisanal Fishers Association.


Joint Endeavor
During the creation process, the communities had the technical and financial support of the Forever Costa Rica Association (FCRA) to strengthen dialogue and coordination platforms between government institutions and neighbors.

Through the CANALES project, with the support of the United States Embassy, we are working to improve the relationship between communities and State institutions, as well as increasing participation to guarantee the sustainable management of the new protected area” said Zdenka Piskulich, executive director of the FCRA.
As a result of the joint work, an Inter-institutional Commission was formed, comprised by SINAC, INCOPESCA, the National Coast Guard Service, the Municipality of Pococí and the local councils, which will allow for a comprehensive management of the new MMA and the Responsible Marine Fishing Area (RMFA), becoming the first shared governance and management model in the Costa Rican seas.

The new Marine Management Area will have a General Shared Management Plan of the Barra del Colorado MMA and the RMFA –first experience of this type in the country- and a Plan for the use of inland and fisheries resources in the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge, and the Barra del Colorado RMFA and MMA. This was possible thanks to the contribution of more than $ 110,000 by the FCRA.

The main focus will be the conservation, sustainable use, and fair and equitable distribution of coastal marine resources, in search of harmonized planning between conservation and the development of the communities, which allows access to marine resources for the present and future residents of Barra del Colorado,” said Laura Segura, director of the Tortuguero Conservation Area.

In addition, a protocol called “Inter-institutional Coordination Mechanism” was prepared to improve communication and joint efforts for human security and well-being in the North Caribbean, in addition to a Community Security Guide to improve the support of this issue in the region.

New Opportunities

As part of the management of the new MMA, the FCRA will support the development of a Sustainable Tourism Plan and the monitoring of business plans that local entrepreneurs have been building together with experts in the field, in order to consolidate the new protected area and foster the generation of sustainable entrepreneurship ventures and the consolidation of existing businesses.

The objective is to promote a blue economy model that allows the sustainable use of ocean resources for the improvement of human livelihoods, the creation of jobs and human growth; all of this while seeking to preserve the health of the ecosystems ”, explained Piskulich.

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