The Government of Ecuador is reportedly planning to create a new marine reserve near the Galapagos Islands to secure migratory species of sharks, whales along with turtles endangered by climate change and industrial fishing.
A large Chinese fishing fleet working near the Galapagos garnered worldwide attention in 2020, over issues regarding the potential effect to marine wildlife in the remote islands that motivated the theory of evolution of Charles Darwin.
Ecuador has limited control over Chinese fleets fishing at its water edges but can curb the activities of its in-house domestic commercial fishing sector, as per Gustavo Manrique, the Environment Minister. Manrique added that the approval of the plan would have economic, social as well as environmental impacts. He also affirmed that the idea is facing flak from industrial groups. The industrial fishing fleet of Ecuador gets almost a third of its catch from the Galapagos waters. Fishing offers close to a third of the non-oil exports of Ecuador, totaling over USD 1.5 billion in 2020.
Environment-wise, having an expansive reserve area undeniably provides more protection. The proposal would increase the size of the current 133,000 square km reserve by three times. Being one of the largest reserves in the world, it will help in reducing the possibility of migratory birds getting captured in the nets of the Ecuadorean fishing fleet. This would help safeguard a wide range of marine wildlife which includes five endangered species migrating between the Cocos and the Galapagos Island.
The proposal of the plan comes along the heels of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity preparing for an October summit focused on saving nature, that will include discussions on proposals like placing a minimum of a third of the planet under conservation within ten years.
Climate change also threatens to curb the rate of reproduction of marine wildlife as well as change their patterns of migration, as per a document that outlines the proposal to increase the conservation area.