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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama

Panama SAC A recent project (2003-2008), from which results are still being published, was funded by the UK's DEFRADarwin Initiative programme: Conservation Management Zoning in Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama. The project was led by Professor Hamish Mair, and three PhD studies were carried out associated with this project as well as numerous MSc student dissertations over the term of the project to add to the scientific outputs.

The aim of the project was to build up research expertise in a team dedicated to obtaining habitat information and to producing management plans for the marine and coastal environment of Las Perlas in the Gulf of Panama in order to enable the designation of a Marine National Park within the Archipelago's boundaries.

The main impact of the project has been providing the necessary scientific information for the securing of the Las Perlas Archipelago as a marine protected area under the category of a Special Management Zone (SMZ), and making such information available to policy makers and legislators, through a steady awareness raising campaign which has used media effectively. Las Perlas is now protected through Law 18 dated May 2007. Law 18 was passed at Congress, by consensus, a process that makes it as strong as possible. Other conservation measures have followed on from the SMZ including the Municipality led regulation, 'Acuerdo Municipal No. 5', passed on October 2006 which protects the biggest watershed in the archipelago located in Isla del Rey as Reserva Hidrol√≥gica (Isla del Rey hydrological reserve). San Jos√©, a privately owned island has subsequently joined a network of privately protected areas. In an archipelago with unclear property rights, where development planning is not straightforward, the above achievements are particularly significant.

For more information, see the project website.

Key CMBB Reference: Mair JM, Sibaja-Cordero JA, Arroyo MF, Merino D, Vargas R, Guzman HM, Benfield S (2009) Mapping benthic faunal communities in the shallow and deep sediments of Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58, 375-383.