Ecuador: the Galapagos marine reserve is expanding

Status: 01/15/2022 1:19 p.m.

Ecuador has expanded the marine reserve around the Galápagos Islands by 60,000 square kilometers – it is now the second largest in the world. This is intended to protect the migration routes of endangered animal species.

The marine reserve around the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific is expanding by 60,000 square kilometres. Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso signed the corresponding decree on board a research vessel in Puerto Ayora Bay in the presence of former US President Bill Clinton and Colombian Head of State Iván Duque.

The Marine Protected Area around the Galápagos Islands is being expanded

Tagesschau 12:53 p.m., 15.1.2022

The new area called “Hermandad” will connect the Galápagos Islands to the islands of Coiba (Panama), Malpelo (Colombia) and Coco (Costa Rica) and will protect the migration routes of endangered species such as turtles, whales and sharks. Heads of state from participating countries announced the new Marine Protected Area last year at the World Climate Conference in Glasgow.

A giant tortoise native to the Galápagos Islands. The archipelago is home to the largest number of endemic species in the world.

Image: Reuters

“A vital necessity”

“There are places that have marked the history of mankind and today we are honored to be in one of those places,” Lasso said. “These islands teach us something about ourselves: what if we acted not as lords of this land, but as its protectors? The oceans are “important regulators of the global climate”. Protecting them is “not naïve idealism, but a vital necessity”.

About 138,000 square kilometers of maritime area around the Galápagos archipelago has been under protection since 1998. The islands belong to Ecuador and are located about 1,000 kilometers west of the South American coast in the Pacific. The sanctuary, where industrial fishing is prohibited, is now the second largest marine sanctuary in the world at 198,000 square kilometers. The area is to be complemented by other protected areas in neighboring Colombia and Panama to create an international biosphere reserve.

UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978

The Galápagos Islands have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 due to their unique biodiversity. The archipelago is home to the largest number of endemic species in the world – species that only exist there – such as marine iguanas, land iguanas and Galápagos finches. It became famous thanks to British naturalist Charles Darwin, who also based his theory of evolution on his observations there.

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