A historic decree creates a new marine reserve – ‘Reserva
Ecuador, Jan. 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SANTA CRUZ, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS Ecuador — The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, today signed a landmark executive decree to create a new marine reserve – ‘Reserva Marina de Hermandad to increase protection for one of the world’s most important marine ecosystems, the Galapagos Islands, home to nearly 3,000 marine species, 20% of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The expansion will create a massive new 60,000 km2 ocean corridor or “bathtub” that will connect Ecuadorian waters to Costa Rican waters and significantly improve protection for endangered migratory wildlife including humpback whales, sea turtles, manta rays giant sharks and endangered hammerhead sharks.
The “Reserva Marina de Hermandad” includes 30,000 km² where all extractive activities are prohibited (no-take zones), including critical ecosystem areas, migratory routes and feeding areas for endangered marine species, and 30,000 km² as a buffer zone where the use of long lines is prohibited. This new reserve increases the area of protection to nearly 200,000 km², when combined with the existing Galapagos Marine Reserve. It is also a key part of the recently announced mega-marine protected area known as the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (Corredor Marino del Pacífico Este – CMAR), which recently received commitments from the presidents of Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to connect the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the four countries covering 500,000 km2 of protected waters.
WildAid’s Marine Program has worked in the Galapagos for over 20 years to improve maritime law enforcement operations systems and implement a comprehensive marine protection plan with Galapagos National Park. WildAid helped facilitate a partnership between the
The Ecuadorian Navy and Galapagos National Park rangers to enforce GMR laws and prevent illegal fishing and poaching of sharks within its borders. WildAid and its partners will work to implement protection mechanisms and procedures that will be deployed in the new protected area, including state-of-the-art technologies to significantly strengthen and improve control of the marine reserve.
WildAid Chairman Peter Knights applauded the action: “It is essential that nations take bold action to stem the tide of environmental degradation. The leadership of President Lasso and Ecuador for this historic decree is remarkable, and the collaboration of Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to protect CMAR is vital and commendable. As we celebrate twenty years of our partnership with the Galapagos National Park Authority to prevent illegal fishing, we are honored to continue supporting what we believe to be one of the best marine protection systems in the world.
Despite the creation of new global marine protected areas (MPAs) each year, many countries are ill-equipped and lack the resources to properly manage and enforce their MPAs. Often the critical step from reporting to implementation fails – resulting in limited conservation benefits and name-only parks or “paper parks”. WildAid’s marine program works with government, non-profit and community partners around the world to strengthen the protection and enforcement of MPAs and coastal fisheries.
Manuel Bravo, WildAid Marine Regional Director for Latin America, said: “These actions protect an area of incredibly high biodiversity, but also preserve the importance of connectivity between these regions. Wildlife that travels long distances in the open ocean don’t care about borders on a map, and this expansion will help protect the unique and often endangered megafauna that migrate through these waters.
Today’s decree follows many months of dialogue with artisanal fishermen and the industrial fishing fleet, who agree on the importance of expanding this area and on the “spillovers” of fisheries resources thanks to increased fish production. The action is accompanied by an international debt swap financing structure for nature conservation, in order to put in place a realistic management of the newly established limits.
“Most people don’t realize that nearly 60% of all marine protected areas lack effective enforcement. Our goal is to close this gap. From the Galapagos, we are creating “Centers of Excellence” to share best practices and help partners prioritize smart and effective application strategies and funding mechanisms. said Meaghan Brosnan, Marine Program Director for WildAid. “In addition to our work in Ecuador, we are working with the governments of Panama and Costa Rica to help design marine protection systems, effective enforcement and legislative strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of these priority marine areas.
Not only is this important for endangered marine wildlife, but also to support essential economic drivers such as tourism, fishing and shipping, which generate nearly $3 billion a year. The leadership shown by the Ecuadorian government is setting the stage to help achieve the global goal of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030.
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