It’s not just a symbolic gesture, or a ” naive idealism”, but “a vital necessity”, according to Guillermo Lasso, President of the Republic of Ecuador. On board a scientific boat from the Galapagos National Park (PNG), anchored off Santa Cruz, one of the islands of the archipelago, the Head of State signed, on Friday January 14, a decree creating a new nature reserve called “Fraternité”.
This marine reserve of 60,000 km2 is added to that of 138,000 km2 existing since March 1998, famous in particular for its turtles and its very rich marine fauna in the Pacific Ocean. The Ecuadorian archipelago, which inspired the theory of evolution of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, therefore now has 198,000 km2 of marine protected area.
The creation of Fraternity is a “clear message to the world”, Mr. Lasso also said. This is’“a new relationship with the Earth, a new way of understanding what the progress of humanity means”, he assured.
Colombian President Ivan Duque and former US President Bill Clinton attended the event, as did government officials from Costa Rica and Panama. The new reserve, located in the north of the archipelago, extends to the maritime border of Costa Rica. It forms a marine corridor that connects to the protected area of Cocos (Costa Rica), following a natural migration corridor for marine fauna.
More than 2,900 marine species
The protected areas of the islands of Malpelo (Colombia) and Coiba (Panama) are to be added later to create a cross-border marine biosphere reserve, which will then be an area free of industrial fishing over more than 500,000 km2, in waters where sea turtles, whales, sharks and manta rays live.
This new reserve “will guarantee the survival of 40% of the world’s marine species”, assured the Colombian president. “We may be a small territory (…), but the planet is also ours”, pleaded for his part President Lasso, who had announced the creation of this new protected era during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, in exchange for a reduction in its international debt. “The seas are great regulators of the global climate”, he added.
The Galapagos archipelago, which owes its name to the endemic giant tortoises that live there, is located 1,000 km from the coast of Ecuador and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a World Biosphere Reserve for its unique flora and fauna. . This area, protected and where industrial fishing is prohibited, is the second largest in the world and has more than 2,900 marine species. In March 2016, Ecuador created an additional 38,000 km sanctuary2 in the Galapagos to protect the hammerhead shark (Sphyrnidae), an endangered species.