Ecuador’s coastal and marine area is home to approximately 58% of the country’s population. This population lives within 100 km of the coast and is highly dependent upon the coastal and marine ecosystems. Its coastal geography is composed of estuaries, mangroves, mountain systems, beaches, bluffs, islands, shallows, rocky and sandy seabeds and even semi-arid areas: all of which possess tremendous biodiversity and productivity. The convergence of ocean currents creates highly productive rocky seabeds, which are also ideal for the concentration and reproduction of migratory marine species (humpback whales, sea turtles, albatrosses, manta rays, sharks). Ecuador currently possesses 16 coastal marine protected areas (MPAs): nine of which are comprised of estuarine
systems and mangrove forests; the other seven are coastal and have a marine protected fringe. Management of current and new protected areas poses a great challenge to the Ministry of the Environment (MAE), as mounting threats will require significant institutional, financial and technological resources.