Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced at the climate summit, COP 26 in Scotland, an expansion of the marine protections around the iconic Galápagos Islands by 23,000 square miles—nearly 15 million acres.
Lasso also announced the creation a protected swimway from Galápagos all the way to Costa Rica, an underwater superhighway refuge 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 new marine sanctuary expands the existing Galápagos Islands reserve by 45%, the equivalent of protecting a Lake Michigan-sized area of water—and there is already a fleet ready to police the area.
Industrial fishing has for decades harvested from this marine superhighway, and the new protection has galvanized members of the Galápagos Conservancy, a nonprofit which is the premiere protector of the endemic giant land tortoises they study and breed, but which also is active in marine conservation.
The news earned the Ecuadorian president a shout out from Hollywood eco-conscience Leonardo Di Caprio.
“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.”
The announcement was hailed at COP-26 where, in other good news, 100 leaders from around the world pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030. More than 100 countries also signed a pledge to reduce their methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030—with the U.S. committing to a 50% reduction of the ultra-potent greenhouse gas by the end of the decade.