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2.3.2 MARINE ECOREGIONAL EXERCISES COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

BIODIVERSITY SUPPORT PROGRAM (Sullivan and Bustamante, 1999)

A hierarchical system for classification of marine and coastal areas consisting of Provinces, Marine and Coastal Biogeographic Regions and Coastal Systems was developed. The Central Caribbean Region was further divided in Coastal Systems.

This study uses the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone to delineate the outer confines of the provinces. The authors recognize that although the EEZ has little ecological significance, it allows for consistent representation of coastal features at the atlas scale. Furthermore, the EEZ delineates those areas in which national governments are responsible for the management of marine resources. Provinces and Biogeographic Regions were delineated considering: the continental shelf, sea surface temperatures, ocean currents (the location of major surface currents, particularly gyres define the boundaries of provinces) and the occurrence of upwellings. Out of each Province, one biogeographic Region (or ecoregion) was selected as of highest priority. (Sullivan and Bustamante, 1999)

Coastal Systems are described as an area of coastline and shelf waters with similar geology, shelf morphology, runoff and coastal oceanography. Ideally, there would be sufficient information on the physiography and ecology of coastal areas to define units of that contain a discrete assemblage of natural communities and perhaps, discrete populations of natural communities. Coastal Systems were based on the dominant habitat type (For the Central Caribbean: seagrass, mangrove, coral reef, mixed, upwelling, beach and rocky platform), defined in terms of coastal morphology, hydrology, geology and dominant biological features and mapped extending from the coastal wetlands (mangroves) to the 1,000 meter isobath. (Sullivan and Bustamante, 1999)

WWF GLOBAL 200 (Olson and Dinerstein, 1997)

The Global 200 marine ecoregions are not the result of an ecoregional based analysis, but nevertheless have been described and mapped for Mexico in different forms in Olson and Dinerstein, 1997 and in WWF, 2000.

GBRMPA-The World Bank-IUCN (Kelleher et al. 1995)

Although not an ecoregional analysis, this publication provides a basis for development and implementation of a global system of marine protected areas to protect and manage representative examples of the world’s rich marine biodiversity. It identifies priorities for establishing new marine protected areas and improving management of existing ones in each of the world’s 18 major marine regions. The marine realm of the world were divided by the CNPPA (IUCN’s Commission of National Parks and Protected Areas, currently WCPA World Commission of Protected Areas) largely on the basis of biogeographic criteria (Biogeographic Zones) but, for practical reasons, also considered political boundaries (CNPPA Marine Regions Boundaries). (Kelleher et al. 1995)

Within this system Mexico’s Pacific coast is entirely included in the North East Pacific region and the Atlantic coast in the Wider Caribbean region. A Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas as the title implies, is an exercise oriented towards identifying protected areas and not to determine relative importance and conservation action urgency between regions. Nevertheless, the areas selected by this exercise as regional priorities for Mexico in the Gulf of California and Gulf of Tehuantepec, plus the natural northern extension of the Belize reef system in the Caribbean, coincide with the results of the other ecoregional based exercises.

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