QUITO (AP) — On board a ship from the Galapagos National Park, President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree on Friday expanding the marine reserve of that archipelago by 60,000 square kilometers, which now has 198,000 kilometers, for the benefit of preservation of highly migratory marine species such as sharks and turtles, among others.
Accompanied by Colombian President Iván Duque and former US President Bill Clinton, he stressed that “this paradise is here for a reason, which is to make us better inhabitants on earth” and stated that as the human impact on the environment grows “It also increases the responsibility we have not only towards nature, but towards humanity.”
“We call on all nations of the world to join this collective effort and preserve the irreplaceable treasures of the ocean. We are all connected… what we do here will have repercussions in other parts of the world”, he added, at the event held on Santa Cruz Island, in the Ecuadorian archipelago, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 kilometers from the continent.
The initiative to expand the Galapagos marine reserve emerged at the COP26 climate summit in November in the United Kingdom, where, together with their colleagues from Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia, they signed an agreement to protect a maritime corridor where Cocos Island is located. in Costa Rica; Coiba, in Panama; Malpelo, in Colombia, and Galapagos in Ecuador, considered among the most biodiverse in the world and the largest protected area in the Western Hemisphere.
Duque expressed that he has set a goal that “30% of the Colombian maritime and surface territory will be a maritime area before the end of my government on August 7 of this year” and said that environmental sustainability is not only the reduction of gases of the greenhouse effect, but of integral climatic actions, among them, reconciliation with nature.
On his side, Clinton asserted that “we have woken up to start something new, I am honored to be the first president of the United States in Galapagos”.
Environmentalists celebrated this initiative. Eliécer Cruz, coordinator of the Non-Governmental Organization Más Galápagos, told The Associated Press that this is “a great first step for marine conservation, this undoubtedly complements and has a special connotation because it connects the Galapagos marine reserve with the Cocos Island reserve, which has just been expanded, with which we basically have a binational reserve.”
He added that the characteristic of this new reserve is that it is located on a kind of biological highway above the Cocos mountain range and that it is used by turtles, hammerhead sharks and mammals to travel freely between Galapagos and Cocos Island back and forth. “A corridor that keeps this zone free of fishing is going to be essential for migratory marine species.”
The spokeswoman for Ecological Action, Ivonne Ramos, described as “a very good idea” the expansion or recognition of new spaces “that have high biodiversity or that have fragile areas, with the idea that the declaration is associated with resources from the State for the control of these spaces and that is associated with a series of international agreements”.
The new area of 60,000 additional kilometers is divided into a non-fishing production zone of 30,000 kilometers, on the Cocos mountain range, and another 30,000 kilometers in which longlines cannot be used, fishing with a long line from which more ropes hang. fine with hooks.
The Galapagos archipelago was declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 1979, in response to its unique terrestrial and marine, animal and plant species in the world, which served the English scientist Charles Darwin to elaborate the theory of the evolution of species.