Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-4-2016


Spanning six counties and over six million square kilometers, the Coral Triangle is home to 75% of the world’s coral species, 37% of the world’s coral reef fish, 6 out of 7 of the world’s marine turtle species and an array of pelagic fish and cetaceans. In addition to its outstanding biodiversity, the Coral Triangle provides economic, social, and cultural benefits to over 396 million people and directly supports the livelihoods of over 130 million inhabitants. It is also one of the fastest growing regions of the world. The same economic opportunities driving the region’s growth are also putting enormous pressure on its natural resources and threatening ecosystem health. Given the development needs of the region, efforts to safeguard marine ecosystems need to be coupled with opportunities for economic growth. The seascapes approach acknowledges this need and, within defined marine geographies, organizes human activity and different management techniques in a holistic, integrated manner in order to both protect marine ecosystems and promote human well-being.

Examples from the Bird’s Head and Sulu-Sulawesi Seascapes show how different communities, industries, and governments have applied the seascapes approach and worked together to successfully establish marine protection while also promoting economic growth. The economic benefits exemplified by these cases range from benefits to local people, communities, and businesses, to larger industry growth, to increased certainty of access for private sector investment and sustainable financing, to increased long-term food security and safeguarding ecosystems services. These examples also provide lessons learned for establishing future seascapes in the Coral Triangle and recommendations for moving forward.


Sorina Seeley (now Sorina Stalla) produced this paper when she was a student in the International Environmental Policy masters program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Specifically, she produced this paper as the culmination of her Center for the Blue Economy Summer Fellowship with Conservation International. The Summer Fellowship is offered to all students within the the MIIS IEP program, who are pursuing a specialization in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.