Ecuador officially expanded its Galapagos marine reserve, a paradise for biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean, by almost 60% on Friday, AFP reported.
On board a scientific ship from the Galapagos National Park (PNG), anchored off the island of Santa Cruz (one of the five islands of the archipelago), the Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Lasso, signed the decree that creates a new nature reserve called ” Fraternity”.
This marine reserve of 60,000 km2 joins the 138,000 km2 reserve existing since March 1998, famous in particular for its turtles and its rich marine fauna.
The Ecuadorian archipelago, which inspired the theory of evolution of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, now has 198,000 km2 of marine protected area.
The creation of “Fraternité” is a “clear message to the world”, declared Mr. Lasso on this occasion. It is “a new relationship with the Earth, a new way of understanding what the progress of humanity means,” he said.
Colombian President Iván Duque and former US President Bill Clinton attended the event, as well as government officials from Costa Rica and Panama.
The new reserve, in the north of the archipelago, extends to the maritime limit of Costa Rica. It forms a marine corridor that connects with the protected area of Cocos (Costa Rica), following a natural migration corridor for marine fauna.
Later, the protected areas of the islands of Malpelo (Colombia) and Coiba (Panama) will be added to create a cross-border marine biosphere reserve, which will then be an area free of industrial fishing in more than 500,000 km2, in waters where sea turtles evolve, whales, sharks and manta rays.
– “vital necessity” –
This new reserve “will guarantee the survival of 40% of the world’s marine species,” assured Colombian President Duque.
“We may be a small territory (…) but the planet is also ours,” advocated President Lasso, who had announced the creation of this new protected era during the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, last November, in exchange for a reduction of its international debt.
“The seas are great regulators of the global climate,” he added, stressing that “taking care of them is not a naive idealism, it is a vital necessity.”
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 is listed as a 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 km2 sanctuary in the Galapagos to protect the endangered hammerhead shark (Sphyrnidae).
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