Ecuador Creates New Galápagos Islands Marine Sanctuary to Protect Sharks
Ecuador has created a new marine sanctuary in the Galápagos Islands that will offer protection to the world’s greatest concentration of sharks.
Some 15,000 square miles (38,000 sq km) of the waters around Darwin and Wolf – the most northern islands – will be made off limits to all fishing to conserve the sharks that congregate there and the ecosystem on which they rely.
Several other smaller “no-take” areas have also been created throughout the volcanic archipelago, a biodiversity hotspot around 600 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.
The announcement of the new reserve, which is the same size as Belgium, means that 32% of the waters around Galápagos will now be protected from fishing and other extractive industries. It will be incorporated into the existing 80,000-square mile marine reserve created in 1998.
Until now, small-scale local fishing cooperatives had been allowed to operate in the area, but the government says additional protection is now essential as the habitat has come under increased pressure from global warming and incursions by industrial trawlers and illegal shark fin hunters.