BUENAVENTURA, Colombia (September 15) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo, and Director of Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia (Colombian National Parks) Julia Miranda announced yesterday the expansion of the Santuario de Fauna y Flora Malpelo (Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary) and the declaration of the Distrito Nacional de Manejo Integrado Yuruparí-Malpelo (Yuruparí-Malpelo National Integrated Management District) in the Pacific region of Colombia.


This announcement adds more than 1,700,000 hectares to the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, increasing the size of the protected area from 950,000 hectares to a total of 2,677,000 hectares. This expansion will now protect significant marine diversity found in the submarine mountains, called dorsals, that had previously not been well represented within the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (SINAP, National System of Protected Areas).


The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is listed as a World Heritage marine site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is also catalogued as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Bird Life International, and in 2017 was included as a Platinum level refuge in the Marine Conservation Institute’s Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES).


In addition to expanding the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, through joint efforts with the Autoridad Nacional de Acuicultura y Pesca (AUNAP, National Fishing and Agriculture Authority) to identify areas of particular interest in the utilization of fishery resources, a strategic area was delineated for  sustainable and responsible  fisheries activities. This resulted in the declaration of the Yuruparí-Malpelo National Integrated Management District (DNMI) as a strategic area for sustainable fishing and resource management, extending over 2,691,000 hectares.


This conservation model involves joint management between the National Parks service, the Colombian Navy, and the Autoridad Nacional de Acuicultura y Pesca. These agencies are also coordinating with the industrial fisheries sector in Colombia to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from the fishing industry in the Pacific, especially the inhabitants of the Colombian Pacific coast, including the nearby cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco.


The expansion of the Malpelo Sanctuary and creation of the DNMI both contribute to the consolidation of the Colombian National System of Protected Areas, now comprising more than 28,400,000 hectares, in which diverse species and both continental and marine ecosystems that constitute Colombia’s natural heritage are represented and protected.


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos remarked that “the addition of this new area fulfills two objectives: first, it contributes to the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo (National Development Plan) and second, it constitutes significant progress on our international commitments regarding biodiversity protection through the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Specifically, it advances Aichi target 11, which states that 10% of the marine coastal areas should be conserved by protected areas. Today, Colombia surpasses this goal, increasing from 8.59% to 13.31% its marine coastal protected territory.”


The expansion of the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary and the declaration of the Yurupari-Malpelo DNMI were achieved thanks to the leadership of the Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales  (Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences), and the institutional support of the Ministry of Environment, Defense and Agriculture and AUNAP. It is also possible thanks to the Institute of Marine and Coastal Research (Invemar); the Malpelo Foundation; International Conservation; and the public-private Alliance for the Conservation of the Biodiversity, Territory and Culture, which includes the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Foundation, and the Colombian National Parks service.