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Ecological Reserve Cayapas Mataje (REMACAM), Ecuador


In the 1990s, Ecuador became the main Latin-American shrimp producer. This industry has been mainly developed in the South -central Ecuadorian estuaries. However, in 1994 this sector suffered from the Taura syndrome, a virus affecting the shrimps and, as a result, it enormously reduced their production. Shrimp farmers expended therefore their activities to the northern Ecuadorian coast. A large shrimp consortium bought up 24,000 hectares out of a total 35,000 hectares belonging to the Pampanal island in the county of Eloy Alfaro. This area is one of the most impoverished regions in the country and it is inhabited by afro-Ecuadorian communities. Traditional mangrove gatherers mobilized to try stopping the shrimp pond expansion, as they are aware of bad consequences this industry usually brings. They want the government to declare the estuary of the Cayapas-Mataje river an ecological reserve, in order to preserve its biodiversity.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ecological Reserve Cayapas Mataje (REMACAM), Ecuador
State or province:Esmeraldas
Location of conflict:Municipalities of Eloy Alfaro and San Lorenzo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The REMACAM was officially declared a protected area with an extension of 51.300 Ha. Later, in the year 2000, a total of 3979 Ha were converted into mangrove concessions being granted to the Afro-Ecuadorian traditional mangrove gatherers communities.

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Project area:47,300
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30,000 inhabitants
Start of the conflict:1994
Relevant government actors:Instituto Ecuatoriano Forestal y de Areas Naturals-INEFAN (Ecuadorian Institute of Forestry and Natural Areas). Later, it became the Ministry of Environment, Programa de Manejo de Recursos Costeros - PMRC (Costal Resource Management Program)., Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Ecuadorian government, Ministry of Defense: La Direccin de la Marina Mercante y el Litoral, DIGMER (The Direction of the Coast Merchant Marine) and the Port Authorities., Instituto Ecuatoriano de Reforma Agraria y Colonizacin-IERAC (ex-Ecuadorian Institue for Agrarian Reform and Colonization).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones para la Defensa de la Naturaleza y el Medio Ambiente CEDENMA (The Ecuadorian Coordinating Committee for the Defense of Nature and the Environment)., Fundacin de la Capacitacin e investigacin para el Desarrollo Socioambiental-CIDESA, Accion Ecologica, Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum -Progresio-FEPP
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Development of alternatives:This population is seeking alternative economic activities such as tourism or agro-forestry in order to reduce the pressure they exercise on mangrove ecosystems.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In 1996 The Ecuadorian government finally declared this area as a protected Area under the name of Ecological Reserve Cayapas Mataje-REMACAM (for its Spanish Acronym).
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decree N1.001-DE( 052-A-DE). 1996. Declaration of Ecological Reserve. Reserva

Decree N 178(O.R 497). The Fisheries and Fisheries Development Law.

The Law of Forestry and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife.

Maritime Police Code

Decree N4989 (O.R.591) of December 24, 1986. Decree 238 (O.R. 722) of July 6, 1987. They declare 362.802 hectares of wetlands as Protected Forests.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Resumen Ejecutivo de la Reserva Ecolgica Manglares Cayapas Mataje (REMACAM), Ypez, Vernica (1999)
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Plan de Manejo de la Reserva Ecolgica Manglares Cayapas-Mataje, Zumba, Elizabeth (1998)
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Desarrollo Eco-ilogico. Conflictos socioambientales desde la selva hasta el mar, Varea, Anamara, Carmen Barrera, Ana mara Maldonado, Lourdes Endara, Byron real, Victoria Reyes, Guillermo Robalino (1997) - CEDEP/Abya-Yala.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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Meta information
Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014
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