Many of you may know that La Flor Wildlife Refuge is globally recognized for its important Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting beach. However, the marine protected area of 20,000 acres (7875 ha) is of equal importance to marine biodiversity. The area provides valuable habitat for juvenile hawksbill sea turtles and overwintering humpback whales from both North and South America. Some of the highest diversity in soft corals and echinoderms are also found along Central America’s Eastern Pacific. Unfortunately, La Flor is one of just two marine protected areas on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast and despite its regulated status, little enforcement has occurred.
During the past year, Paso Pacifíco has had the pleasure of joining with Oceans 5 and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in a program to develop sustainable fisheries management. We’ve facilitated meetings with over 60 local fishers, including members of the Ostional Women’s Oyster Cooperative, to discuss current fishing practices and the benefits of setting aside marine areas for conservation and marine spatial planning.
These past 10 months, we have seen the fishers’ committee enforce fishing rules more effectively, even reporting illegal fishing activities. When an industrial trawler started fishing illegally inside La Flor Wildlife Refuge, this group reported the trawler and shut it down!
What we’re most impressed with is that this same group proposed a new marine protected area south of La Flor. This new marine reserve of nearly 47 kilometers contains important coral reef and humpback whale habitat. Protecting this life-filled area will restrict destructive fishing practices and benefit local communities through increased tourism opportunities like whale watching and snorkeling.
We look forward to supporting the fisher men and women on their conservation journey!