April 09, 2018

Colombia Oceans Caucus Sees Firsthand the Challenges for Marine Conservation

Members of the Colombian Oceans Caucus are learning firsthand the challenges facing Colombia’s oceans and coastal ecosystems. With support from ICCF Colombia, in conjunction with Parks Director Julia Miranda, caucus members recently visited Rosario National Reef and San Bernardo to observe conditions and discuss with local experts current work and future priorities regarding ocean conservation in Colombia.

Capacity and prioritization are two of the main challenges facing marine territories and parks in Colombia. Marine parks often do not have adequate infrastructure for the number of entry points needed to collect visitor entry fees. It was only recently that the Colombian government created a ministry focused on specific issues related to coasts and the marine environment.

This mission marks a critical step for the Colombian Congress, members of which have the opportunity to prioritize addressing the challenges facing Colombia’s marine parks, including marine debris, marine and park management, capacity investment, and illegal fishing.

Six members of the Colombian Conservation Caucus participated in this important mission, including the President of the Senate, Doctor Efraín Cepeda Sarabia and the chairpersons of the Committee on the Environment.

The two-day visit included meetings with representatives of the National System of Protected Areas responsible for marine-coastal ecosystems and representatives from Heritage Colombia, a public-private partnership for sustainable financing of protected areas. Members were able to engage with experts on issues such as marine debris, public-private partnerships, and locally-managed ecotourism projects.

During the mission, members of the caucus expressed a shared commitment to support best practices for sustainable development through ocean and protected area conservation efforts. Specifically, members discussed initiatives to provide funding for conservation activities and ways in which other funds could be designated for the development and management of protected areas. Given Colombia’s potential to benefit from ecotourism, the Congressmen also encouraged the National Parks Service to learn from other successful international initiatives that have prioritized ecotourism as a means for sustainable development.

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