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Seascapes are large, multiple-use marine areas, defined scientifically and strategically, in which government authorities, private organizations, and other stakeholders cooperate to conserve the diversity and abundance of marine life and to promote human well-being. Seascapes typically have high biological diversity, ecological and economic connectivity, and aesthetic and cultural value. Seascapes may include government-authorized protected areas for addressing special management needs and provide an opportunity for government agencies to coordinate their efforts voluntarily to secure more effective regional management programs.

Seascapes define places where conservation goals and human well-being can be secured through partnerships between governments, local communities, and non-government and private organizations.

Formed at the Regional Level
Seascapes move beyond the conservation of individual species toward the effective management of entire ecosystems. Seascape boundaries are determined by natural science as well as socioeconomic and political considerations. As such, people are central components of ecosystems. The wide variety of human uses of and impacts on marine ecosystems must be managed at the appropriate scale. No single local or national government can achieve effective ecosystem management alone. Resource users and non-government and other organizations' combined efforts in helping to prevent extinctions and to conserve species and their habitats, as well as in maintaining a healthy resource base, will allow for a variety of long-term uses for people. In addition, given that seascapes may cross political borders, seascape management supports participating governments and stakeholders in coordinating efforts to share responsibilities and costs of marine ecosystem management, both in formally protected areas and in the waters that link them.

Benefits of Seascapes
Seascape scale management aims to conserve marine biodiversity to benefit ecosystems and present and future human generations. Seascapes also contribute to sustainable livelihoods for communities and larger enterprises through healthy fisheries, and maintain ecosystem services by contributing opportunities for recreation, offering storm protection, and providing flood control. In addition, seascapes facilitate a management framework to guide sustainable tourism, trade, and other economic activities.

Seascapes allow for improved collaboration in priority setting and fundraising, increased participation and stewardship, greater coordination in utilizing financial and technical resources, and increased participation in management decisions for seascapes by users of marine resources.

CI Seascapes Program
To date, Conservation International has supported the promotion and creation of three seascapes by working closely with a variety of partners, government representatives, and local stakeholders to this end. Two of the current seascapes are located in the Coral Triangle area of the Pacific Ocean, in the national waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and the third seascape is focused in the eastern Pacific Ocean in the waters of Central and South America. These seascapes serve as powerful tools for ocean conservation and marine ecosystem management.

  • The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (ETPS) is a coastal and marine region of 2.1 million square kilometers (roughly 810,815 square miles) that includes the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. The ETPS also encompasses interspersed international waters, including the islands of Galapagos, Malpelo, Gorgona, Cocos, and Coiba.
  • The Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape is an area of approximately 900,000 square kilometers (about 347,492 square miles) that includes the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas, in the national waters of three independent nations of the Southeast Asian Region: Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
  • The Papuan Bird's Head Seascape is a coastal and marine region of 183,000 square kilometers (approximately 70,657 square miles) located in northwest Papua Province of Indonesia, that stretches from Teluk Cenderawasih in its eastern reaches to the Raja Ampat archipelago in the west and the FakFak-Kaimana coastline in the south.

Resources and Links

CI Wide
Priority Area: Key Marine Regions
Strategy: Global Marine Strategy
Program: Sea Turtle Flagship Program
CABS: Marine Rapid Assessment Program
Web Site: CI Marine Portal
Web Site: Defying Ocean's End
Frontlines: Deep Sea Bottom Trawling
Frontlines: The Net Loss of Overfishing
Frontlines: Smooth Sailing Ahead for Cruise Industry
Frontlines: Kiribati Safeguards Entire Coral Archipelago
Frontlines: CI Backs Island Community's Conservation Efforts
Frontlines: Tsunami Survivors Replant, Rebuild, and Restore Frontlines: Troubled Waters
Frontlines: Island purchase helps safeguard Caribbean jewels
Frontlines: Earth's life support
Frontlines: A study in marine conservation challenge and reward
Frontlines: Ten Species on the Brink of Extinction
Frontlines: Corridor project links unique island worlds
Frontlines: McDonald's sets sights on marine environment
Frontlines: Restoring the "Aquarium of the World"
Frontlines: Q&A: The fisheries crisis
Frontlines: Caribbean depths home to biological treasures

On the Web
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWoT)

Publications & Downloads
Brochure: Seascapes: Globally Important Marine Ecosystems (PDF–661kb)
Book: Defying Ocean's End
Report: The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWoT) (PDF–3.2mb)
Poster: Ten Most Threatened Sea Turtles in the World (PDF–705kb)


© CI, Sterling Zumbrunn
School of fish near Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape.

© CI, Gerry Allen
The Raja Ampat Islands, part of the Papuan Birds Head Seascape.

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