Country information

Basic facts on marine waters
  • Territorial sea (12 NM): 928 660 km2
  • Exclusive Economic Zone in km2: N/A
Relevant MSP projects

Overview of MSP related maritime uses

Current main uses:


Shipping Oil and gas
Ports Nature conservation
Fisheries Aquaculture
Cables and pipelines Scientific research
Military Tourism and leisure
Underwater cultural heritage Coastal protection

Others: Anchorage areas, change areas, fishing areas and routes, communities, maritime signaling (buoys and lighthouses), diving areas.

Which marine spatial plans exist?

Legal framework

Political Constitution of Colombia:

  • Article 80: The State will plan the management and use of the natural resources, to guarantee its sustainable development, its conservation, restoration or substitution. In addition, it shall prevent and control the factors of environmental deterioration, impose legal sanctions and demand the reparation of the damage caused. Likewise, it will cooperate with other nations in the protection of ecosystems located in border areas

Decree Law n° 2324 of 1984, By which the General Maritime and Port Directorate is reorganized:

  • Article 2°. Jurisdiction. The General Maritime and Port Directorate exercises its jurisdiction up to the external limit of the exclusive economic zone, in the following areas: internal maritime waters, including intercostal and maritime traffic channels; and all those marine and fluvial-marine systems; territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, marine bed and subsoil, supra-adjacent waters, coasts, including beaches and low tide lands, ports of the country located in its jurisdiction, islands, islets and cays and over the rivers listed below, in the areas indicated (…)
  • Article 3°. Maritime activities. For the purposes of this Decree are considered maritime activities those related to: (…)
    • 18. The administration and development of the coastal zone
  • Article 5°. Functions and powers. The General Maritime Directorate has the following functions: (…)
    • 21. Authorize and control the concessions and permits in waters, low tide lands, beaches and other public properties in the areas of its jurisdiction
    • 22. Regulate, authorize and control the construction and use of the islands and artificial structures in the areas of its jurisdiction (…)
    • 26. Authorize and control dredging, filling and other ocean engineering works in low tide lands, beaches and other public properties in the areas of its jurisdiction
    • 27. Advance and rule investigations for the violation of merchant marine regulations, for maritime accidents, for the violation of cargo reservation regulations, for the contamination of the marine and fluvial environment of its jurisdiction, for undue or non authorized constructions in the public properties and lands submitted to the jurisdiction of the General Maritime Directorate, and impose the corresponding sanctions (…)

Resolution n° 0825 of 1994, By which the limits of jurisdiction of the port authorities are established

“National Environmental Policy for the Sustainable Development of Oceanic Spaces and Coastal and Insular Zones of Colombia – PNAOCI” of 2000, which follows the ecosystem approach and the conceptual framework of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM). Regarding this Policy, in 2002, the DNP issued CONPES 3164. This policy framework defined the criteria to guide the definition of the coastal zone in the country as well as the delimitation of spatial units (Coastal Environmental Units – UACs) as continuous geographic areas, which involve land and sea space, with clearly defined ecosystems, which require a unified visualization and management that brings together local and subregional territorial entities. In the legal context, with the establishment of the Law 1450/2011, it was possible to generate the normative support to the UACs and the Integrated Management Plan for the Coastal Environmental Unit (POMIUAC) as a planning instrument (Decree 1120/2013, compiled in the Decree 1076/2015); moreover, based on practical cases, a methodological framework with technical guidance for the preparation of the POMIUAC was developed and adopted through the Resolution 768/2017.

“National Policy for the Ocean and the Coastal Spaces – PNOEC” (initially formulated in 2007 and then updated for the 2016-2030 period) integrates elements from the environmental part of the PNAOCI.

CONPES 3990 of 2020, “Colombia Sustainable Bioceanic Power 2030”:

  • 4.3.4. Planning and management of marine, coastal and insular spaces Line of action 4.1. Generate instruments for the management of maritime and territorial planning:
    In order to have relevant land management tools for coastal, marine and insular spaces that allow the use of their natural resources, the management of activities in the coastal and marine area and the benefits of connection with other countries, the following actions will be carried out. On the one hand, the National Planning Department (DNP), as technical secretariat of the Commission for Territorial Planning (COT) and entities of the COT, in coordination with DIMAR and other entities that make up the Colombian Ocean Commission (CCO), will make recommendations on the planning of coastal, marine and insular spaces to be included in the General Policy for Territorial Planning (PGOT). This action will be carried out between 2020 and December 2022. On the other hand, the DIMAR, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory, will formulate orientation documents for coastal marine spatial planning in the jurisdiction of each of its 13 port authorities. This action will be carried out from 2020 until December 2030.
    At the same time, DIMAR and the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory, as the leading institution for territorial planning and in coordination with other entities participating in the COT, will evaluate the scope and define the articulation of these documents with other planning and management instruments, as well as their formalization by updating current regulations that are considered relevant (…)


General Maritime Directorate

CC Jonathan Gómez – General Maritime Subdirector

Last updated: July 2022
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