Ecuador expands marine protected area around the Galapagos Islands

SANTA CRUZ, Ecuador, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Ecuador on Friday created a new marine reserve around its pristine Galapagos Islands – whose rich biodiversity inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – as it seeks extend the protection of endangered migratory species.

The reserve’s expansion by 60,000 square kilometers (23,166 square miles) is the first step in a plan agreed by Ecuador with close neighbors Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama at the United Nations Summit on the climate in Glasgow last year to create a common corridor through which species threatened by climate change and industrial fishing can migrate. Read more

The existing Galapagos Marine Reserve, one of the largest in the world, measures some 138,000 square kilometers (53,282 square miles), and the new conservation area will see 198,000 square kilometers (76,448 square miles) protected.

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“Today we declare a marine reserve with an area of ​​60,000 square kilometers, the equivalent of three times the size of Belize,” Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said after signing the new reserve aboard the ship. research vessel Sierra Negra moored in Puerto. Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the tourist center of the Galapagos.

At the United Nations Climate Summit, Lasso said he hoped the reserve expansion project would be funded through a conservation debt swap. However, on Friday, Lasso did not reveal any funding details.

Conservationists say the reserve will help protect at least five critically endangered species, including hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, turtles, as well as other species that migrate between Galapagos and Costa’s Cocos Island. Ric.

While this compresses the space available to Ecuadorian fishing crews, it will not avoid the presence of a Chinese fishing fleet of 300 vessels that anchor in international waters off the islands every year to hunt giant squid.

The impact of this fleet on the Galápagos ecosystem has yet to be determined by Ecuador.

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Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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