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Closer look: history of our work in Ecuador

Corn Island, Nicaragua. Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI.
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Written by: Sarah Rakowski
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Building capacity and regional collaboration for marine conservation in Central America & Ecuador

The desire to improve the sustainability of local fisheries and ensure community benefits from marine protected areas is shared at many coastal sites across Latin America. FFI worked with local organisations in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Ecuador to give artisanal fishers a voice and role in managing their marine natural resources.

FFI’s approach emphasised the importance of participatory governance, ecosystem-based management, and support for local culture, livelihoods and access rights. We took a distinct approach at each site, based on the national context and the specific priorities of the local fishing communities. A range of participatory and ecosystem-based management tools for marine conservation were tested and implemented, including spatial zoning and securing marine resource management rights for local communities.

Reducing the extent and impact of shrimp trawling in Ecuador and Costa Rica

Bottom trawling for shrimp is one of the most damaging forms of unsustainable fishing, due to high levels of by-catch and physical impact on habitats. Coastal communities complain bitterly of the damage done to the marine ecosystem and their livelihoods.

In this project, FFI supported Ecuadorian government agencies and NGO partners to monitor the ecological and socio-economic changes resulting from a national ban on bottom trawling, with the exception of one form of shrimp trawling. The monitoring results, combined with a compilation of lessons learned from such bans elsewhere in the world, helped Ecuador to build public support for the ban and avoid pitfalls, such as failure to manage changes in other fisheries, as people respond to changing distribution and abundance of resources.

At the same time, at Tárcoles in Costa Rica, FFI supported a fishing community and NGO partner, who have successfully lobbied for, protected and monitored a zone free of bottom trawling for shrimp. By communicating the impressive results, the project consolidated political support for the exclusion of bottom trawling and encourage replication of the initiative in other community-based ‘Responsible Fishing Areas’.

Supporting the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian government is striving to establish a system of Marine Protected Areas along its coast. FFI supported this process together with the national organisation Fundación Futuro Latino Americano and the Ministry of Environment. We focused especially on developing innovative participatory governance systems for the emerging protected areas.

We also worked with communities in the south of Ecuador to protect large areas of mangrove swamp and promote sustainable use of the crab and cockle populations that thrive there. FFI and partners are later formed a regional collaboration between Ecuador and initiatives in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to advance innovative approaches to marine habitat conservation.

Sustainable livelihoods in the Awacachi Corridor

FFI worked with Fundación Sirua to reduce human pressure on the Awacachi Corridor by addressing issues of land tenure and promoting biodiversity-friendly products such as native bamboo and cacao, which can be grown under the natural forest canopy. We also implemented environmental education programmes and strengthened Fundación Sirua’s institutional capacity. In addition, FFI developed an ‘avoided deforestation’ project through the FFI-Macquarie partnership, with the aim of enabling income from carbon credits to be used for financing conservation.

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Sarah Rakowski

Sarah is Fauna & Flora International's Communications Manager. With a BSc in Environment, Economics and Ecology, she has long been fascinated with the challenge of balancing human needs and environmental protection.

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