On this year’s World Ocean Day, President Laurentino Cortizo of Panama signed an executive decree tripling the size of the Cordillera de Coiba marine protected area (MPA). As a result, many more thousands of square miles of ocean life will be safeguarded. With the decree, Panama protects at least 30 percent of their waters ahead of 2030, meeting the 30×30 initiative to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030.

Originally established in 2015, the Cordillera de Coiba composed about 6,650 square miles. The executive degree adds about 19,505 square miles to the marine protected area of Coiba, roughly the size of 90 percent of the country’s land area. Additionally, it brings the total of protected Panamanian waters to approximately 37,916 miles.

Home to sea turtles, sharks, whales, and many more forms of marine life, Panamanian waters will be protected and maintained for the future. Along with the neighboring marine protected areas of Colombia (Malpelo and Yuriparí-Malpelo), these combined with the Cordillera de Coiba helps form the third largest marine reserve in the tropical Pacific.

The Panamanian government’s actions help outline a pathway to establishing the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway. The governments of Costa Rica and Ecuador can pledge to protect their waters abundant with marine life, similar to Panama. Situated close to the Cordillera de Coiba, the creation of the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway by their respective governments would produce a formidable protected area of the Pacific Ocean.