Published: 08 December 2015
Last edited: 30 September 2020
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In Ecuador, mangroves traditionally supplied coastal communities with a variety of goods. Extensive shrimp farming and weak enforcement of policies, however, have critically depleted mangrove ecosystems, negatively impacted livelihoods of users. Recognizing the problems associated with mangrove degradation, the Ministry of Environment (MoE) implemented sustainable use agreements as an innovative coastal management policy.


South America
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Coastal and marine spatial management
Fisheries and aquaculture
Local actors
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Land and Forest degradation
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Physical resource extraction
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty




mangrove deforestation, weak regulations and enforcement, and threatened livelihoods • Deforestation of mangroves • Free and uncontrolled access to mangrove resources • Non-compliance to fishery regulations • Overexploitation of fishery resources • Threatened livelihoods of coastal communities • No area for traditional shrimp and mussel farming • Weak institutional enforcement capacities


Crab catcher associations, artisanal fisher associations and cooperatives, local communities, association of resource users and producers, associations of traders of fishery and aquaculture products

How do the building blocks interact?



Social: - Strengthened capacities on topics such as the importance of mangrove ecosystems, basic directive for guiding tourists, monitoring the size and sex of crabs - Strengthened associations - Gender inclusion: Women extract the crabmeat to be sold in cans Economic: - More income for resource users (due to increased capacities) - Compensation for shrimp farmers to support mangrove reforestation Environmental: - Conservation of the ecosystem: the co-management of mangrove areas facilitates and optimizes efforts to conserve and protect the habitat and its species - Reforestation of areas lost to shrimp farming: mitigating activities responding to the loss of mangrove area and the negative effects of spreading shrimp farms


"I do not only consider myself a crab fishermen, but proudly claim to be the ›guardian of the mangrove‹", says Ricardo Carpio, president of the association »21 de Mayo Puerto Roma«. "Like many other crab fishermen of Ecuador, I used to catch crabs with traps. After five years of implementing the activities that are required to obtain a concession, including no longer using traps or chemicals, I see that the state of the resource has improved. We only catch males and respect minimum catch sizes in order to allow the crabs to grow and reproduce. I realise the positive changes that the concession has brought to my community. We have benefitted from participating in other government projects, such as a programme for the installation of solar panels on private houses. We gained a monetary incentive of more than $37,000 issued by the Ministry of Environment for assisting in the control and surveillance of around 2,500 hectares of mangroves. All members of our association jointly take care of the concession, and I am very strict when applying penalties or implementing new standards. Once I even fined my own father for catching crabs in a closed area. In addition, our association cooperates with other communities, guiding them through the process of obtaining a concession and supporting them during the implementation phase."

Contributed by

Daniela Johana Hill Piedra Subsecretaría de Gestión Marino y Costera – Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador

Other contributors

Subsecretaría de Gestión Marino y Costera – Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador