Colombia Wins Biodiversity Award

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct. 20 (UPI) — A Colombian program to protect sea life while providing employment has won a top award marking the International Year of Biodiversity, officials said.

The Seaflower Marine Protected Area established by Coralina, a Colombian government agency, was judged to have protected a “vast territory” of ocean while helping fishermen make a better living, the BBC reported.

Projects in Ghana, Japan, the United States and several European countries were also mentioned in the awards to be given out at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan.

The successes of Coralina and the other recipients showed what could be and was being done locally, said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which organized the awards.

The 500,000-acre Seaflower Reserve centers on San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, a Colombian-owned archipelago located about 125 miles east of the Central American coast.

The Seaflower conservation plan is designed to support coral, mangroves, turtles, fish, sea birds and crabs, but most notably to restore stocks of queen conch, which in past decades were plundered from the archipelago’s waters for food and for its shells.

Coralina’s approach has been to work with fishing communities, ensuring that some fishing can continue while closing other areas important for nature.

“We have no-take and no-entry zones — also special use and artisanal fishing zones, and general use zones,” Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Coralina’s general director, said.

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