Seaflower Marine Protected Area

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Present briefly the proposed area and its principal characteristics, and specify the objectives that motivated its creation :

The San Andres Archipelago includes 3 small inhabited islands and a number of uninhabited small cays, atolls, banks, and reefs extending for more than 500 km in the Southwestern Caribbean. The largest island and center of government, San Andres (SAI), is about 800 km northwest of Colombia and 100 km east of Nicaragua. Old Providence and Santa Catalina (OPSC) are 80 km north of San Andres. The Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA) is part of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO 2000), which encompasses the total area of the archipelago. The MPA was designed to implement biosphere reserve objectives in significant marine and coastal ecosystems and includes the largest, most productive open-ocean coral reefs in the Caribbean.

The MPA includes 2,000 km2 of coral reefs, atolls, mangroves and seagrass beds, including: (i) the barrier and fringing reefs, lagoons, seagrass beds, and mangroves circling the inhabited islands; (ii) Courtown (ESE Cay) - a kidney-shaped atoll 6.4 km by 3.5 km; (iii) Albuquerque (SSW Cay) - a circular atoll with a diameter over 8 km; (iv) Roncador - an atoll 15 km by 7 km with a 12-km reef to windward and 30 km2 of live coral coverage; (v) Serrana - an atoll 36 km long and 15 km wide with a complex reef system 37 km by 30 km, with 75 km2 live coral coverage; and (vi) Quitasueño (Queena) - the archipelago's largest coral structure, 60 km long and 10 to 20 km wide with a 40-km reef wall and 496 km2 of live coral coverage (see annex for maps).

Explain why the proposed area should be proposed for inclusion in the SPAW list

It contains the largest, most productive open-ocean coral reefs in the Caribbean. They are particularly complex due to exposure to currents, wave action, and other physical oceanographic factors and include extensive benthic habitats such as barrier reefs, reef lagoons, reef slopes, forereefs, deep coral plateaus, numerous seamounts, and deep coral reefs. Representative examples of other coastal and marine ecosystems found in the Caribbean region are found in the MPA, including mangroves, seagrass and algal beds, soft and hard bottoms, beaches, and the open ocean. As new scientific information becomes available, there is an increasing understanding of genetic and ecological connectivity in the Caribbean, and the role Seaflower plays in this, from both an ecological and an oceanographic perspective. The islands and atolls of the Seaflower MPA have a significant role in water circulation regionally, with the formation of the Yucatan current from the diverted Caribbean current, and the generation of the Colombia-Panama gyro (SE current).

The MPA was created in response to a demand from the islander community -- that has depended on marine resources for their livelihoods for centuries -- for improved conservation of marine biodiversity and management to promote sustainable use. The major uses are subsistence, artisanal, and industrial fishing and recreation and tourism (diving, snorkeling, swimming, assorted water sports, marine tours, etc.). The 7th largest MPA in the world, Seaflower's design combined the best available biological and socioeconomic information with strong stakeholder ownership of the MPA's Integrated Management Plan (IMP). The MPA declaration and IMP resulted from a 5-year, highly participatory process led by the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence, and Santa CatalinaCORALINA, the regional autonomous representative of Colombia’s National Environment System (SINA) for the archipelago and MPA management authority.

According to you, to which Criteria it conforms (Guidelines and Criteria B Paragraph 2)

Conservation value

Cultural and socio-economic criterias

Cultural and traditional use