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LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: Nations establish ‘ocean’ reserve

Ecuador, in partnership with regional neighbours Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica, has created a new marine reserve to help protect the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands and, at the same time, create an “ocean highway” to Costa Rica’s Coco Islands marine reserve.

Called Hermandad or “Brotherhood,” the new reserve expands the total protected marine area around the Galapagos archipelago by 45% to 193,000 sq. km.

A ceremonial signing event took place in the Galapagos recently led by Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and including Colombian president Ivan Duque and the foreign ministers of both Panama and Costa Rica. Other dignitaries on hand included former US president Bill Clinton and noted marine biologist and conservationist Doctor Sylvia Earle.

“There are places that have made a mark on the history of humanity and today we have the honour of being in one of those places. These islands that welcome us have taught us many things about ourselves. So, instead of acting as the absolute masters of these lands and seas, shouldn’t we act as their protectors?” said Lasso.

The new reserve extends to the northeast of the Galapagos following a migratory route used by millions of sea turtles, whales, sharks, and rays — thereby joining two marine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The creation of the reserve follows declarations at COP26 in Glasgow late last year by the four nations to work together to create a huge Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor between their countries.

Ecuadorian officials said the decree “undoubtedly safeguards the life-affirming wildlife experiences our guests appreciate in the Galapagos. They will enjoy and cherish the same marine natural encounters — whether through coastal explorations with dinghies, kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards or glass-bottom boats, snorkeling or SCUBA diving — for decades to come…”

First published at Travel Industry Today

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