The area includes small fishing communities, beaches, cliffs, mangroves, tropical rainforests and undiscovered wilderness
A General Vision
The Station also neighbors several Afro-Ecuadorian, mestizo and Chachi indigenous communities that are located along the Muisne River Estuary. These communities have traditionally depended upon mangrove wetlands for the collection of basic subsistence needs including shellfish, crustaceans, fish, firewood, building materials and traditional medicines. But over the last two decades, the mangrove ecosystem has been heavily impacted by commercial aquaculture, urban sprawl and heavy extraction of its natural resources.
Up to 1998 only 50% of original mangrove habitat remained in Ecuador and the shrimp boom displaced ancient traditional industries of local communities. However, people adapted quickly to this easier income generating option and at least 90% of the local economies depended on the shrimp farming bonanza. The bust came in 1998 and was caused by a non-native viral disease that affects crustaceans mainly. Shrimp farms collapsed causing massive unemployment and out-migration from the Muisne area. People returned back to the little remaining mangrove habitats and harvested food and other resources thus further impacted this vital ecosystem.
The majority of people in the Muisne town (pop. 8,000) have no farms, thus depending on the mangroves and the sea for subsistence: there are no formal employment opportunities since the shrimp farms collapsed. On the contrary, most people that live in the few small villages around do have farms and manage to get by since their land provides them with basic food. To some degree subsistence farming, cattle raising and cacao production keeps this minority of the population on their land. However, over the years small scale farming has become less profitable due to large distances to markets which reduce the profit margin: Nowadays, most farmers would like to sell their land to improve their lifes in the village or even leave the region.
Tourism is minimal due to the regions remoteness, lack of roads and infrastructure although the area is full of unexplored wilderness and traditional cultures thus having a big potential to become an ecotourism destiny.
Congal Biomarine Station, located in Muisne County, northern Coastal Province of Esmeraldas, features natural corridors between beaches, estuaries, mangroves, man-induced wetlands and humid tropical forest habitats as well as organic production units. With 210 hectares (525 acres) in size it has become the principal private nonprofit organization- run productive conservation area on the coastline of Ecuador.
Congal Biomarine Station.
- Construction of a chicken pen for raising chickens.
- Planting corn, cacao and cassava.
- English classes, hours: 9 AM to 1PM and 3PM to 6 PM.
Public Hospital of Muisne.
- Practices work in the subcentre or for Medical Brigades.