Santa Cruz, Galápagos, January 14, 2022 – This afternoon, in a historic victory for ocean conservation efforts in Galápagos and worldwide, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso officially signed the declaration to expand the boundaries of the Galápagos Marine Reserve by 60,000 square kilometers (23,166 square miles) bringing the total area to an incredible 198,000 square kilometers (76,448 square miles) of protected marine habitat. The expansion includes a 30,000-square-kilometer “no-take” migratory superhighway – the Galápagos-Cocos Swimway aka the Hermandad Marine Reserve – that connects the Galápagos Marine Reserve with protected Costa Rican waters.
Created in 1998, the Galápagos Marine Reserve (aka the Hermandad Marine Reserve) boasts one of the richest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet. It is home to a wide range of permanent and migratory protected species including Whale Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Eagle Rays, Mola Mola, Green Sea Turtles, Galápagos Penguins, Tuna, and more. Marine reserves also serve as carbon sinks and are considered an effective method to combat climate change. Now — thanks to a unified effort by the governments of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia to expand and link their respective marine protected areas (MPAs) — the Reserve now connects to the newly formed Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, one of the largest protected seascapes in the world.
At the signing ceremony, attended by Galápagos Conservancy’s Director of Conservation Washington Tapia and other members of the Galápagos conservation community, President Lasso had this to say about the new reserve: “As of today, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador are going to protect and connect two of the most biologically significant habitats in the world, today we are declaring a marine reserve for an area of 60,000 square kilometers that are added to the ocean, the great climate regulator.”