central america

Photo credit: Zeynep Gökalp/Unsplash

Introducing ECOP Central America

ECOP Central America aims to empower and showcase the contribution of Central American ECOPs to the UN Decade visible at the local, regional, and international levels through network-building and knowledge-sharing.  

Who is a Central American ECOP? 

We welcome every Central American citizen or resident that self-identifies as being within 10 years or less of experience in any ocean-related occupation (not necessarily paid), it does not matter if you are currently working somewhere else in the world. 

What’s our vision? 


  • Raise awareness and disseminate the importance of the ocean at a regional scale 
  • Promote cross-sectoral knowledge exchange and cooperation between Central American ocean professionals and organizations to promote interdisciplinarity
  • Increase the representation of the Central American ECOPs in the regional and international scape
  • Provide mentoring to Central American ECOPs for career building
  • Strengthen the cooperation with other Latin American regions such as Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean 
  • Create strong regional and international networks and bonds that transcend the UN Ocean Decade.

Want to join? 

We welcome every Central American ECOP to join our network to receive more information on any regional and international activities and opportunities. 

For any enquiries, please contact:

Fill in the form to join our network:

Our plans​


  1. Create a cross-sectoral regional network of ECOPs and facilitate the creation of further regional networks 
  2. Identify the regional barriers and needs of ECOPS through a Latin American survey
  3. Facilitate opportunities (internships, jobs, conferences, research stays, training) by building up a network of institutions, NGOs, industries, and funding options and creating a map to visualize their location in the region
  4. Disseminate relevant news, opportunities (internships, jobs), training, events (seminars, workshops, symposia), and funding opportunities
  5. Facilitate the training of Central American ECOPs to increase their opportunities and participation in the international landscape 
  6. Organize monthly seminars given by Central American ECOPs, mentors, or invited speakers to share the work, expertise, and experiences
  7. Organize training and symposia related to the UN Ocean Decade that will allow for cross-sectoral knowledge exchange among the Central American countries
  8. Organize national outreaching initiatives to involve citizens in ocean conservation 
  9. Work in collaboration with other Latin American regions, including Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean

Monthly seminars

Watch the recording

ECOP Central America coordination unit

Xochitl Édua Elías Ilosvay

Central America coordinator

Xochitl is an interdisciplinary ECOP fascinated with how humans interact with the ocean and the opportunities to create a sustainable, just, diverse, and inclusive relationship. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Vigo.

Diego Fallas Madrigal

Costa Rica coordinator

Diego is a biologist with preparation in ecology, sustainable development and natural resources management, but mainly involved in marine biology studies where he leads and collaborates in national, regional and global projects. With his efforts he is supporting the understanding of sharks, rays and bony fishes abundance and spatial distributions. He is currently starting his Master’s studies at the University of Costa Rica (UCR).

Felipe Alfaro

Costa Rica coordinator

Felipe is a passionate coastal engineer (MSc. Coastal and Ports Engineering-University of Cantabria) who works as a researcher in the Laboratory of Maritime Engineering of the University of Costa Rica (IMARES-UCR). His current research interests lie in the numerical modeling and analysis of waves propagation focused on projects related to wave climate forecasts for downtime analysis in ports, design of coastal protection infrastructure, nature-based solutions and climate change.

Laura Figueroa

El Salvadoran coordinator

Laura is enthusiastic about marine life and its conservation and currently finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of El Salvador. She also engages in science communication and raising awareness about the importance of the oceans in El Salvador.

María Schoenbeck

Guatemalan coordinator

María is a biologist working in the marine-coastal zone in the Pacific coast of Guatemala, mainly with fisheries and identifying threats, including climate change impacts on fisheries and the marine-coastal zone with the aim of creating participatory strategies for resource conservation and spatial planning. She is currently a Fellow from the Coastal Solution Program from Cornell University.

Andrea Lira Loarca

Guatemalan coordinator

Andrea is a coastal scientist (PhD. in Coastal and Environmental Engineering) working on climate change effects on wave climate and extreme coastal water levels and coastal impacts. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Genoa, Italy.

Mabel Watson

Nicaraguan coordinator

Mabel studies terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and currently works at developing inclusive, collaborative, and supportive strategies to manage marine resources and ensure the well-being of the coastal communities in the Pacific Ocean. She is in the last semester of her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Management at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua.

Zara Guifarro

Honduras coordinator

Zara is a biologist with a master´s degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation. She has worked in different protected areas in Honduras working towards the conservation of manatees, reef fishes, and most recently corals. She is currently working with coral spawning, assisted fertilization, and building capacities in coral restoration in the Bay Islands of Honduras

Paola Diaz Canales

Honduras coordinator

Paola is a Master’s student at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). She is currently studying the spatial variability of stable isotopes of algae and parrotfish to identify the feeding habitats for the integrated management of compressor fisheries in the North Pacific of Costa Rica. She is also co-directing the research at UCR on the current status of pelagic sargassum in the Caribbean coasts of Central America.

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