Ecuador Vows at COP26 to Create Marine Reserve for Galapagos Islands

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Ecuador says it will extend protections around the Galapagos Islands.

Sea lions in a bay on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
Sea lions in a bay on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.Credit…Josh Haner/The New York Times
  • Nov. 2, 2021, 7:57 a.m. ET

In a bid to protect the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic Pacific archipelago where Charles Darwin saw a blueprint for the origin of every species, Ecuador’s president said on Tuesday that his nation would expand the marine reserve around the natural treasures.

“Today is a day that will remain in history for us, Ecuador, Galapagos and the world,” President Guillermo Lasso said at the climate summit in Glasgow. “We are not only preserving the future of our country, but the entire humanity.”

The government has agreed with the fishery, tourism and conservation sectors to establish a new marine reserve of more than 23,000 square miles in the Galapagos Islands.

Mr. Lasso said it would be added to an existing marine reserve of about 50,000 square miles.

As climate change warms the world’s oceans, these islands are a crucible, and scientists are worried. Not only do the Galapagos sit at the intersection of three ocean currents, they are also in the cross hairs of El Nino, a climate phenomenon that can have wide-ranging effects on weather around the world.

Research published in 2014 by more than a dozen climate scientists warned that rising ocean temperatures were making El Nino both more frequent and more intense. And UNESCO, the United Nations educational and cultural agency, says that the Galapagos Islands are one of the places most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“This will not only strengthen the area’s biodiversity, but it will also bolster our combat against climate change,” Mr. Lasso said.

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