Seaflower Marine Protected Area

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(Guidelines and Criteria Section B / Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria) Nominated Areas must conform, where applicable, to at least one of the three Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria. If applicable, describe how the nominated site satisfies one or more of the following three Criteria (Attach in Annex any specific and relevant documents in support of these criteria).

Cultural and traditional use:

The local raizal community identified the establishment of a multiple-use MPA as the preferred approach to address the problems caused by open access to resources, including diminishing resources, user conflicts and political and social marginalization. The archipelago has a long social and economic history distinct from that of mainland Colombia. Indigenous islanders (now known as raizales) descend from European (mainly English) settlers and Africans (slaves and runaway slaves from other islands) who came to the islands in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The islands’ remoteness meant that for centuries the community had a high degree of autonomy and self-determination, depending on and managing the marine resources until the latter half of the 20th century.

The raizal identity is inextricably linked with the marine environment. In a study carried out during MPA planning, nearly 99% of raizal respondents considered traditional fishing essential to their identity as islanders, and as many said that the archipelago’s marine territory was their patrimony and belonged to them by historical right. This sense of ownership and belief that their well-being as a people is linked with the health of the marine environment contributed significantly to the almost universal support for MPA conservation (97% in favor of marine reserves and 96% agreement that marine conservation would benefit them) (Howard et al. 2003).