Coral Reef Conservation in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

  • Juan José AlvaradoEmail author
  • Octavio Aburto-Oropeza
  • Rubén Abad
  • Enrique Barraza
  • Margarita Brandt
  • Jaime Cantera
  • Priscila Estrada
  • Carlos F. Gaymer
  • Ana Gloria Guzmán-Mora
  • James J. Herlan
  • Juan L. Maté
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 8)


This chapter reviews and evaluates coral reef conservation strategies along the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP), a narrow biogeographic region on the Pacific American coast that extends from southern Baja California, Mexico to northern Peru, including several oceanic islands. The ETP is a natural laboratory, a model for understanding the development of coral biotopes in a changing environment. We evaluate conservation strategies in seven countries in the ETP region (Peru was not included for apparent lack of coral habitats). A survey of current Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) highlights great variation in the number, scale and management approaches. Generally, MPAs with no-take areas are relatively uncommon, with multi-purpose areas favored. The Cabo Pulmo MPA in Baja California, Mexico demonstrates that when a local community is involved in the creation and enforcement measures of an MPA, conservation success can be achieved. Despite such apparent successes, inadequate and confusing legal practices have generally forestalled effective protection of coral ecosystems in the ETP. However, in several instances nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have assisted with planning, negotiation and stakeholder engagement. Nonetheless these findings underscore how the establishment of an MPA does not guarantee that conservation goals will be achieved. This calls for a new approach that incorporates contributions from ecological studies along with a high investment in capacity development and training to ensure that the goals of MPAs better complement effective fisheries and ecosystem management within and outside their borders.


No-take areas Paper parks Fisheries management Seascape Latin American reefs 



We thank the editors of this book for inviting us to participate in this project. We also appreciate the support of Ian Parker who reviewed the final draft, Wilfredo Fuentes and Carolina Canales who kindly prepared the map of El Salvador, and Lucas Sandino for providing valuable information on Nicaragua. CFG and JJH were supported by the Chilean Millennium Scientific Initiative, NC120030 Grant. We appreciate the comments made by P.W. Glynn, and two anonymous reviewers who enriched this work. We thank D. Moanga, M. Chavez, R. Romero-Chavez (SIGMAR-CIMAR), and V. Jiménez for their help in improving the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan José Alvarado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Octavio Aburto-Oropeza
    • 2
  • Rubén Abad
    • 3
  • Enrique Barraza
    • 4
  • Margarita Brandt
    • 5
  • Jaime Cantera
    • 6
  • Priscila Estrada
    • 2
  • Carlos F. Gaymer
    • 7
  • Ana Gloria Guzmán-Mora
    • 8
  • James J. Herlan
    • 9
  • Juan L. Maté
    • 10
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Marine Biology Research DivisionScripps Institution of OceanographyLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Museo de Zoología QCAZ, Sección InvertebradosPontificia Universidad Católica del EcuadorQuitoEcuador
  4. 4.Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos NaturalesCol. y Calle Las MercedesSan SalvadorEl Salvador
  5. 5.Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y AmbientalesUniversidad San Francisco de Quito, Diego de Robles s/n y PampiteCumbayá, QuitoEcuador
  6. 6.Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad del ValleCaliColombia
  7. 7.Departamento de Biología Marina, Millennium Nucleus for Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands (ESMOI) and Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA)Universidad Católica del Norte, Larrondo 1281CoquimboChile
  8. 8.Marine ProgramConservation International-Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  9. 9.Millennium Nucleus for Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands (ESMOI), Departamento de Biología MarinaUniversidad Católica del Norte, Larrondo 1281CoquimboChile
  10. 10.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAncónPanama

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