Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (CMAR)
Cocos Island is located 625 kilometers southwest of Coiba Island (Panama), 630 kilometers west of Malpelo Island (Colombia), and about 681 kilometers northeast of Pinta Island in the Galapagos Archipelago (Ecuador). All these islands are oceanic and are part of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific -CMAR-.
CMAR is a regional initiative for conservation and sustainable use, which seeks the proper management of biodiversity and of the marine and coastal resources of the Eastern Tropical Pacific in 4 countries: Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador, through regional government strategies. It was confirmed in 2004.
CMAR is defined by its oceanographic, bathymetric (topography of the seabed), and ecological connectivity characteristics. This region represents one of the most productive areas in the Eastern Pacific, and it is one of the biogeographic provinces with the greatest biological diversity in the world.
You can find the submarine formations of the Cocos Mountain Range to the north (Cocos Island) and the Carnegie Range to the south (Galapagos Islands), as well as the extensive Panama Canal basin (3000 m deep), which is concentrate in this region. The Galápagos Archipelago is part of an active geological “hotspot” for at least 20 million years.
It gathers a significant number of unique and particularly vulnerable habitats and ecosystems that harbor a great biological diversity and productivity that includes endangered endemic marine and terrestrial species of great ecological, economic, and aesthetic importance. The fauna of the Corridor includes whales (blue and humpback) and endangered marine turtles, as well as diversity of species of tuna, shark, stingrays, billfish (i.e. swordfish, striped marlin, blue marlin, and sailfish), and seabirds. The islands of this region have some of the few coral reefs within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean that are well preserved.
Several marine currents converge and condition the dispersion of marine larvae and influence the patterns of migration, mobilization, and distribution (reproduction and feeding) of a large number of species of regional and global relevance. Climatic dynamics such as the ENSO phenomenon (El Niño) cause this region to be subject to constant environmental stress.
CMAR seeks to promote a close and voluntary collaboration of the four member countries, focusing on 4 main topics:
Biodiversity: To promote the conservation of ecosystems and marine protected areas, vital habitats for reproduction and development of different species.
Fishing: To strengthen cooperation among the 4 countries to reinforce information and management that guarantee the sustainable use of resources, as well as to strengthen monitoring systems given the migratory nature of many of the species in the Corridor.
Responsible tourism: To develop good sustainable tourism practices and implement monitoring systems to promote responsible tourism and improve control of tourism activities in protected areas and in areas of influence of CMAR.
Prevention and Control: To improve control and monitoring systems for marine protected areas and zones of influence of CMAR.
The immediate anthropogenic threats to natural resources and sustainable development in this region are mainly physical alterations and the destruction of critical habitats and ecosystems, the overexploitation of natural resources, and the introduction of invasive species, together with climate variations that periodically impact the development of populations of both endemic and resident species.
At the medium and long terms, cross-border partnerships have strengthened through CMAR aim the attainment of the following results:
- Improved management and potential expansion of existing protected areas.
- Identification of new protected areas.
- Increased connectivity within the Corridor boundaries.
- Protection and conservation of migratory species and key areas for breeding and feeding.
- Protection of populations of critically endangered species and their habitats.