In 1959, to preserve its flora and fauna from human influence, Ecuador designated 97% of the Galapagos’ landmass as an 800,000-hectare national park under strict regulations.
Less well known to the general public, the archipelago’s marine reserve, created in 1998 with a 133,000 km2 marine protected area, is a zone where four ocean currents converge, and is just as exceptional as the mainland.
More than 2,900 species of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals can be found here. The archipelago is also home to many endemic species, including 57 on the world’s red list of threatened species.
In 2001, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized as a unique living museum and showcase of evolution. Today, it is one of the world’s largest marine reserves.
In 2022, this marine reserve was expanded by 60,000 km 2 with the aim of further preserving marine fauna and drastically reducing illegal fishing! After two years of negotiations that had been initiated by the former president with the National Chamber of Fishermen and the fishing industry, the decree was finally approved after COP26, in November 2021.
This new reserve, called La Hermandad (the brotherhood in Spanish), is located in the tropical Pacific marine corridor of the Cocos – Galapagos – Malpelo – Coiba migratory routes.
Among the extension of the protected territory, 50% prohibits any fishing or extraction of marine flora and fauna. This is an important migration route for several endangered species, such as the hammerhead shark and leatherback turtle, as well as a feeding area. The remaining 50% authorizes responsible fishing, with the exception of longline fishing.
This project is part of a wider framework of international relations with Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, with the aim of extending marine protected reserves and preserving 30% of their territorial waters by 2030.
“This will not only strengthen the region’s biodiversity, but also our fight against climate change,” said Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso.
A great step forward for marine conservation in the enchanted archipelago!