University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > CCFMarine Seminars > 90 days to secure the deal! The creation of a large new shark sanctuary within the Galapagos Marine Reserve

90 days to secure the deal! The creation of a large new shark sanctuary within the Galapagos Marine Reserve

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DATE AND TIME CHANGE - Pippa Heylings is still in the Galapagos facilitating the finalisation of the Marine Reserve so will be talking to us in May, not April as originally advertised. This promises to be a fantastic and topical talk. Ecuador has just created a marine reserve the size of Belgium in the northern part of the Archipelago, an area with the highest known abundance of sharks in the world. Pippa Heylings will share her insights into the politics and policy of this process. Please join us in the Large Seminar Room on the first floor of the David Attenborough Building (New Museums Site).

Abstract

On March 23rd 2016, Ecuador created a new marine sanctuary in the Galapagos Islands that will offer protection to the world’s greatest concentration of sharks. Some 15,000 square miles (38,000 sq km) of the waters around Darwin and Wolf – the most northern islands – will be made off limits to all fishing to conserve the sharks that congregate there and the ecosystem on which they rely. Several other smaller “no-take” areas have also been created throughout the volcanic archipelago, a biodiversity hotspot around 600 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The announcement of the new reserve, which is the same size as Belgium, means that 32% of the waters around Galápagos will now be protected from fishing and other extractive industries. It will be incorporated into the existing 80,000 square mile marine reserve created in 1998, which prohibited all industrial fishing in the second largest marine reserve in the world. As a result, the following week, Ecuador was appointed the new President of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, a regional inter-governmental initiative for marine and coastal biodiversity conservation of the islands of Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador; 4 out of these 5 island marine reserves are World Heritage Sites. The initiative seeks to ensure regional conservation measures particularly important for the endangered pelagic species that depend upon the marine corridor.

According to a new study by Pelayo Salinas of the Charles Darwin Research Station, Enriq Sala, and colleagues, fish biomass in this area of the Galapagos Marine Reserve is on average 17.5 tons per hectare. That’s about twice as high as the second highest area known to science, the nearby Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. Another recent study, this time by Alex Hearn, has shown that the northern sanctuary is the only known place in the world where pregnant whale sharks are regularly seen, using this area as a regular pit-stop in their gestational stage. Until now, small-scale local fishing cooperatives had been allowed to operate in the area, but the government says additional protection is now essential as the habitat has come under increased pressure from global warming and incursions by industrial trawlers and illegal shark fin hunters. Tourism operators, particularly those offering dive tourism, are allowed within the new sanctuary.

Nevertheless, with the ink still drying on the paper, there is still much to be lost and won. There have already been several street protests by local fishermen. As part of the negotiations and trade-offs to secure the new zoning plan with the creation of the large no-take sanctuary in the north, the government agreed to a series of alternatives and “compensatory” measures for the local artisanal fishermen – with the condition that these would be set in motion within 90 days. When questioned with a certain degree of mistrust by the fishermen regarding the credibility and feasibility of these alternatives, the Minister offered his resignation if the government did not deliver. The 90 days started from the day of the signed Ministerial Agreement on 23rd March. Some of these measures offered are controversial in themselves, including research on modified forms of long-line fishing for the local fishermen within other parts of the Reserve; as well as the possibility to adjust some of the earlier agreed no-take areas in the rest of the archipelago (where there may not be large endangered pelagics but where there are high densities of Galapagos endemism). The distribution of costs and benefits of the new sanctuary are being debated fiercely, and the role of tourism needs to be addressed, as well as the capacity of the government to control this large oceanic area, where there are also regular illegal incursions by flotillas of smaller boats to do long-line fishing by the industrial fishing fleet from Ecuador, Costa Rica and other countries.

Pippa Heylings lived and worked in the Galapagos for 6 years, and facilitated the creation of the Marine Reserve in 1998 and the first consensus-based zoning plan in 2000. She has now been invited by the Ministry of Environment and the Galapagos National Park to facilitate the 90-day process to secure the status of the new zoning plan and the shark sanctuary – and the sustainability of its implementation. This is an intensive, mutli-stakeholder process of conflict management working at the epicentre of science, policy, practice and conflict. Pippa Heylings is a specialist in marine governance and professional facilitator of social and environmental conflict management. On March 23rd 2016, Ecuador created a new marine sanctuary in the Galapagos Islands that will offer protection to the world’s greatest concentration of sharks. Some 15,000 square miles (38,000 sq km) of the waters around Darwin and Wolf – the most northern islands – will be made off limits to all fishing to conserve the sharks that congregate there and the ecosystem on which they rely. Several other smaller “no-take” areas have also been created throughout the volcanic archipelago, a biodiversity hotspot around 600 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The announcement of the new reserve, which is the same size as Belgium, means that 32% of the waters around Galápagos will now be protected from fishing and other extractive industries. It will be incorporated into the existing 80,000 square mile marine reserve created in 1998, which prohibited all industrial fishing in the second largest marine reserve in the world. As a result, the following week, Ecuador was appointed the new President of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, a regional inter-governmental initiative for marine and coastal biodiversity conservation of the islands of Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador; 4 out of these 5 island marine reserves are World Heritage Sites. The initiative seeks to ensure regional conservation measures particularly important for the endangered pelagic species that depend upon the marine corridor.

This talk is part of the CCFMarine Seminars series.

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