Just recently the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, made an important decision for sharks and other marine animals in one of the ocean’s most globally valuable locations. Correa announced that all fishing, mining, and oil drilling is banned in a 15,000 square mile sector of the ocean in the Galápagos Islands. This new protected area has become the largest shark sanctuary in the world and also combines with the rest of the protected areas in the Galápagos Islands to make 32 percent of the area protected (Silva). An existing marine reserve of 80,000 square miles was created back in 1998. The area had previously allowed local fishing at a small scale, but Correa and the government decided that with global warming affecting the area, illegal shark hunting increasing, and other fishing activities causing negative effects, it was best to establish full protection for the area (Aldred).
Along with the various species of sharks, this new reserve is home to nearly 3,000 species of fish, the only marine iguana in the world, and many other species of mammals and invertebrates (Silva). Also, around 99% of the land are of the Galápagos Islands is protected and does not allow habitation by humans. The tourism on the islands is also strictly regulated to be sure the environment is kept safe for the biodiverse community it supports (Aldred).
This bold move is an important one for sharks especially. Sharks have seen a decline in population across all of the earth’s oceans. Every year, around 100 million sharks are killed and this new protected site may allow for sharks to safely breed and bring their population numbers back up again. The site is already home to 34 species of sharks and this location is already sought out as a breeding and resting ground for the sharks (Silva).
-Aldred, J. (2016, March 21). Ecuador creates Galápagos marine sanctuary to protect sharks. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/ecuador-creates-galapagos-marine-sanctuary-to-protect-sharks
-Silva, C. (2016, March 21). Ecuador Announces World's Biggest Shark Sanctuary In Galápagos [PHOTOS]. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/ecuador-announces-worlds-biggest-shark-sanctuary-galapagos-photos-2340421