Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced yesterday at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the Paris Climate Agreement, an expansion of the marine protections around the iconic Galápagos Islands by 23,000 square miles.
Lasso also announced the creation a protected swimway from Galápagos to Costa Rica, protecting an underwater superhighway for a variety of endangered migratory animals such as scalloped hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, rays, sea turtles, and tuna.
The swimway will connect with Cocos Islands National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Costa Rica. The news got the Ecuadorian president a shout-out from Hollywood elite Leonardo Di Caprio.
Thank you for your message. Our government is committed to the protection of the environment. The Galapagos Islands is a treasure to the world. We will keep working towards a sustainable ecological transition. https://t.co/L2HWLVH4FB
— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) November 1, 2021
Stretching over 15 million acres, the existing marine reserve is to be expanded by 45% of its original size, the equivalent of protecting a Lake Michigan-sized area of water. Industrial fishing has for decades harvested from this marine superhighway, and its protection has galvanized members of the Galápagos Conservancy, a non-profit which tends to make headlines over the giant tortoises they study and breed, but which also play a large role in marine conservation.
“Galápagos Conservancy will continue to fund the Galápagos National Park’s patrol boats to keep industrial fishing out of these precious waters. What’s more, we have groundbreaking new marine projects well underway for 2022, including more grants focused on marine conservation than ever before,” the group said in a statement. “We hope that this agreement between Ecuador and Costa Rica will serve as a model for multinational collaboration in marine conservation going forward”.
Like the last time the COP met, the early signs from COP26 is that very little joy is to be had by almost anyone. Pessimistic talk of “digging our own graves” and “last best hope” abounded, particularly from the leaders of island nations, but also from the UN Secretary-General.
“Green” politicians are disappointed in the moderates, who are seen as acting too slowly, and both have stern words for leaders who don’t commit. Activists are disappointed in everyone, and media coverage keeps track only of “pledges” and who makes them and who doesn’t.
India President Modi announced to arrive at net-zero emissions, meaning mitigation strategies will absorb or prevent the total emissions of the country, by 2070, which was hailed as “real climate action”.
Several countries promised to end deforestation, and President Joe Biden announced a plan to cut methane emissions by 50% in the United States through fossil fuel production, by the end of the decade. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: A hammerhead shark amid shoals of tuna in the Galápagos Marine Reserve.