Guillermo Lasso, Ecuador’s President, signed a decree establishing a new marine reserve north the Galapagos Islands.
The new reserve, called “Hermandad” or “Brotherhood”, expands the protected waters by 60,000 km (23,166 sq miles). It expands upon the existing Galapagos Marine Reserve that protects approximately 133,000 square kilometers from extractive activities.
Lasso, who was on board a ship in Puerto Ayora (a town in the Galapagos), said, “There are places which shape human history. Today we have the honour of being in one such place.”
Lasso stated that these islands taught him something about himself. “What if instead of being masters over the Earth, we were its protectors?”
Lasso first announced that the expansion would be completed in November in Glasgow at the COP26 summit on climate change. In exchange for Ecuador’s international borrowing being reduced, the project was approved.
Lasso said that the seas are important regulators of the global environment. He said, “Taking care is not a naive idealism.” It is a vital necessity.
Why is expansion important?
The new marine area will eventually connect Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands to Panama’s Coiba Islands, Colombia’s Malpelo, and Costa Rica’s Coco.
Ivan Duque, President of Colombia, said that the new reserve will “ensure the survival and protection of 40% of the world’s marine animals.”
Advocates say the passage can protect the migration routes of rare species.
Matt Rand, who is responsible for marine habitat conservation efforts at The Pew Charitable Trusts, stated: “Safeguarding a pathway between the linked biodiversity hot points of the Galapagos Islands and Costa Rica’s Cocos Island helps preserve this remarkable array of marine life.
“Ecuador’s new protections recognize the critical importance of connectivity in effectively protecting highly migratory species such as sea turtles, sharks and whales,” Rand said.
A UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site
Since 1978, the archipelago was a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site that is renowned for its unique flora & fauna.
It is believed to be home to more 2,900 marine species, some of which are rarer than the Galapagos finches and marine iguanas.
Charles Darwin, an English naturalist and naturalist, spent time on the islands in 1835. This helped him to develop his theory of evolution.
The reserve was established as a protected marine area in 1998. The expansion creates 198,000 square kilometers of protected marine area.
fb/sms (AFP, dpa)